A hub that will offer psychological resources to organisations and employees to help them to manage the effects of COVID-19 has been launched.
Led by Dr Volker Patent, Lecturer in Psychology in the OU’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, the hub has launched on the OpenLearn platform, followed by an online launch event with activities aimed at the business community for use with employees.
Dr Patent said: “We are drawing on our research into the psychology of work to build resources around mental health, trust and uncertainty for businesses. To the best of our knowledge, nothing like this exists.”
Research which Dr Patent conducted in July 2020 asked business leaders to indicate their projected needs for the next two years. The data shows that not all organisations have had the same capacity to develop the needed adaptations.
The research highlighted the importance of investment in talent growth, developing capabilities in digital media and flexible working as well as attention to soft areas in managing people (e.g. wellbeing, trust, uncertainty).
It found that, on the whole SMEs had more difficulties in addressing psychological impacts than larger companies. About 33% of businesses reported less than good capacity for dealing with a range of impacts (e.g. supporting people being made redundant, addressing mental health, managing flexible working and others). A big part in how well businesses seemed to adapt and how big the impact of COVID was on them was related to their use of digital technology, flexibility, and general ability to absorb a variety of impacts.
The new content on the hub reflects these findings and features a breadth of resources on: supporting workers whose roles have changed; bullying; breaches in psychological contracts and trust; facilitating group discussions; principles of a coaching approach, and exercise, mental health and the importance of aerobic fitness.
Dr Patent added: “Businesses don’t enjoy making people redundant and wonder what more they can do apart from statutory payments to help people regain their footing. Through this hub, we are providing signposts to content to help them in their careers and to connect them to the OU in a new way. For employees who are working with employers currently the ongoing impact of COVID is also a concern and our hub provides resources that provide relevant information for businesses and their employees.”