Carina Reverter
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Return to the Office: Stress, Anxiety Require Broader Care

By Carina Reverter | Fri, 05/27/2022 - 11:00

I recently participated in a significant event in Ciudad de Mexico about human resources and what actions companies can take given the fact that more than 50 percent of employees are looking to change their job. During the event, relevant and highly experienced speakers highlighted strategies and tactics to improve the retention of talent, such as work environment, employee valuation and feedback systems, enabling systems to manage stress, growth opportunities and salary.

As a manager and employer, I am always looking for those policies and decisions that drive the retention of the best talent. Nevertheless, we have to accept that there is a systemic crisis in the world and that companies and managers are not the only ones to blame for this situation. All of society has suffered a long period of stress and anxiety, with a pandemic affecting the whole world for more than two and a half years, a deep crisis in most economies, an accelerated transformation in the way we live and work and interact with society, and high levels of inflation and unemployment affecting everybody’s pocket. When things seemed to be going back to normal, we saw a war in Ukraine, a further increase in inflation, and as the population that is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 grows, more employers are asking employees to come back into the office. One has to be very strong not to be affected by this scenario. Not surprisingly, more than half of employees are looking for a job change. People’s mental health is becoming a systemic problem and healthcare systems and employers need to adapt their approaches to tackle whole-person healthcare.

Healthcare companies and employers should consider the needs of the whole person, including mental health and physical health. There is a connection between mental and physical health. Panic attacks can generate breathing difficulties, bad sleeping habits have a direct effect on physical health, social pressure can affect diet and physical health, just to mention a few examples. Health includes physical health, mental health, social well-being and other resources. Healthcare should not be restricted to treating someone when they have a fever. Most healthcare plans focus only on physical health, which is not meeting the needs of the whole person. Then there is a significant portion of the population who don’t have access to a private healthcare plan, especially in less developed countries. Healthcare operators and systems and employers need to take the lead in tackling mental health, given the current scenario.

There are many factors that can contribute to mental and social health. Eating a healthy diet and exercising are key for good health. It is also important to have coping skills when challenges come up in a job or a relationship. Having healthy social relationships can also contribute to a person’s overall well-being, including mental health. How we spend our free time can have a direct impact on our mental health. Our thoughts, feelings and behaviors directly affect our lives. Significant changes in our routines have a direct impact on all of these mentioned factors. The return to on-site work is generating a great deal of stress and anxiety, which affects our diet, our free time, our relationships and how we spend time with our families and friends.

Flexibility in the workplace is becoming mandatory for retaining talent. Most employees are considering changing jobs because of the lack of flexibility. According to data from the health sector, 70 percent of medical consultations can be done through telemedicine. Doctors and medical professionals have the potential to benefit from telemedicine, which gives them greater flexibility. At MeetingDoctors, we encourage health providers and doctors to implement telemedicine programs and become more flexible and omnichannel in the way they interact with patients. Just like all employees in different sectors, doctors and other professionals at MeetingDoctors value flexibility as well. We all reinvented the way we work during the pandemic and we encourage all employers to take advantage of those lessons to implement a new normal in the workplace. We believe that telemedicine programs could democratize access to health for entire populations. Specifically in Mexico, telemedicine platforms, such as MeetingDoctors, could bring doctors closer to remote and more dangerous areas.

MeetingDoctors is a telemedicine platform that integrates medical specialties, such as general practice, pediatrics, gynecology, cardiology and dermatology, with well-being professionals who provide individualized and on-demand support and information to our patients. These professionals include personal trainers, nutritionists, therapists, and sexologists. Prevention and wellness should complement healthcare plans focused on physical health and our clients are increasingly investing in these programs. MeetingDoctors educates patients on different health issues, improving their awareness of different diseases. Telemedicine is an affordable and accessible alternative to cope with physical and mental health. Patients can avoid costs and time associated with a physical appointment. Using MeetingDoctors, our patients don’t need to miss time from work.

According to a recent study by McKinsey & Company, flexibility and safety are core concerns for employees and represent key opportunities to support mental health during on-site return. Implementing a telemedicine program for all employees that includes mental and physical healthcare solutions is one of the most valued benefits among employees and can be implemented broadly for all employees with a controlled budget. Healthcare providers should also consider the implementation of professional telemedicine programs, as the lack of telemedicine seems to be one of the key dissatisfaction factors among consumers during the pandemic, according to McKinsey. 

There is a clear trend among leading and inspirational companies toward incentivizing and even compensating prevention and well-being among their employees. Companies want to improve their performance and having healthy and happy employees is mandatory. Technology and telemedicine can become a great tool for monitoring, tracking and improving employees’ physical and mental health (at a reasonable cost and with a direct ROI achieved).

Photo by:   Carina Reverter