A Year Of COVID: Can Decision Makers Like Employers And Educators Be More Compassionate?

This pandemic has eroded a lot off us; can employers and educators be more considerate of us and not expect 'normal' productivity?!

This pandemic has eroded a lot off us; can employers and educators be more considerate of us and not expect ‘normal’ productivity?!

By now, all of us must have realised that the pandemic is agonizing, debilitating and scary.

The rich and the privileged have also been praying and requesting help for their kith and kin, so imagine the plight of the economically backward, uneducated and underprivileged.

Students have been hassled with the new norm of online classes not for a day or two, but more than a year now.

With no food deliveries and house-help around, the WFH employees are sailing in two boats simultaneously and testing their balancing skills alongside patience.

Those who have lost their education opportunities and jobs have another ordeal altogether.

Are workplaces and educational institutions listening?

In these tough times, it is expected of those in power, at educational institutions and workplaces, to be considerate to what their students and employees are going through. Nobody is comfortable with what’s going on around. People are panicked and worried despite everyone at their house being healthy. Hence, the exhaustion of those who have sick and ailing, kids, senior citizens, pregnant, lactating people at home is immeasurable. Educational institutions and companies should make at least a few changes to their work style so as to be of a little help in these tough times.

“But they are paying you/educating you.”

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Yes. We all respect our educational institutions and workplaces for continuing to educate us and employ us during these times of uncertainty. However, the trouble arises when we are expected to display the same level of efficiency and attention like we’ve done before the pandemic.

Staying at home doesn’t mean we are enjoying a vacation. We are staying at home because that is the last option to keep ourselves, our families and communities safe. We are not “free all day” because we are staying at home. Each of us is despondent and traumatised, yet we are appearing in front of the cameras with smiling faces.

Is it fair to expect the same level of commitment to deadlines as earlier?

Anyone active on social media must have seen students ranting about how they were asked to finish assignments and give exams despite everything around.

Employees ranting about how their work doesn’t have any timings now, because they are staying at home all day. About how their pay was cut. About how educational institutions are charging the same fees. About how they didn’t have internet connectivity to perform their duty and nobody considered that issue while formulating WFH policies.

About how they were scolded for being absent/taking leaves. About how they weren’t as tech-savvy as required and are being laughed at.

All of this would never be a hassle if the pandemic wasn’t here. I’m an educated person doing a paid internship, hence I know that discipline is of utmost importance anywhere. But in the face of a virulent pandemic that didn’t show any mercy even after a year, can we be stringent with students and employees?

Can we take action on employees and students for making mistakes despite trying their best?

Can we have some empathy for how all of this has affected mental health?

Last year, we did a wave of conversations and awareness around mental health in the social media (and in real life, hopefully).

With numerous exams being postponed until further notice, students are in a fix about interviews and job applications. In fact, employers themselves might find it difficult to recruit newbies, if they are downsizing their businesses. As existing employees are apprehensive about their jobs and paycuts, the stress and anxiety of the students awaiting jobs can be imagined. A lot of people are unsure of what to do next. They are only thankful that they are surviving.

Doesn’t all this affect their mental health? Are those in power not going to consider it’s impact on efficiency and effectiveness? Or, will we do it only when it again becomes #trending on social media?

The least, the bare minimum we can expect from our superiors is compassion. May be they cannot bring about a substantial policy change right now, considering they are also human. But they can definitely understand what we are going through and give us some time to get back on track. Like I said above, we are all doing a balancing act of professional and personal life, with both being equally demanding. We can only hope our superiors hold our hand and support our balancing act, instead of pushing us down.

Image source: a still from short film Nayantara’s Necklace

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