This week, our nation notched the sobering statistic of surpassing more than 500,000 deaths due to COVID-19, even as we collectively inch closer to the one-year anniversary of when our communities and organizations first responded to the March, 2020 arrival of the life-changing virus.

From the White House to the State House, to living rooms across our nation, families are marking the staggering list of fatalities with introspection, remembrance, and for those looking toward a future that includes a vaccination, hope.

We need to use this benchmark to assess some of the successes learned as a result of experiencing a pandemic together.  For one, safety guidelines work. Wearing masks and maintaining safe distances absolutely helped quell not only COVID numbers, but the spread of seasonal flu as well.

For societal planning though, especially businesses, government and educational institutions, we have to ask what the return to so-called normalcy is going to look like.

Beyond the physical safeguards we have seen implemented during the pandemic, it is incumbent upon organizations to be strategically looking forward to life on the other side of COVID.  And at every turn, these entities need to look past just physical health safety, risk compliance and security but prepare also for the heavy responsibility of caring for their employees and maintaining healthy operations.

At the Edward Davis Company, our specialists have begun pivoting preparedness planning to focus not just on physical infrastructure upgrades, but health and wellness initiatives as well. Businesses have a responsibility for their workforce, not just from an economic sense, but a humanitarian approach as well.

We have witnessed an incredible increase in mental health issues as our neighbors and co-workers have weathered this pandemic, many of them contending with losing a loved one or watching family members battle the disease. 

From a different angle, observers are watching what has happened in the wake of the attack on the United States Capitol, specifically the suicides of officers who were swept up in the throes of protecting the heart of our nation’s government.  What were previously very confidential mental health discussions are being laid bare and our nation’s leaders need to pay heed to this unspoken enemy of people who contend with high-level and undue stress as part of their work week.

Business and governmental leaders need to take a holistic approach of protecting employees from both physical and psychological damage inflicted on them not just by workplace violence, or domestic issues at home, but even the far-reaching emotional effects of a pandemic-inducing virus like COVID-19

This is an approach that must be embraced at the highest levels of management.  In the wake of such devastating impacts on our society, we need to not just worry about making sure our employees have proper physical protection gear, but the correct tools to meet adversity head-on and recover both personally, and professionally.

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