Before the coronavirus pandemic, more than 200 million workdays were lost due to mental health conditions each year – the equivalent of $16.8 billion lost in employee productivity.

As employees think about returning to work, they face uncertainty about what the new normal will look like. Employers must continue to offer mental health support to mitigate the risk of elevated absenteeism and presenteeism. Steps organizations should consider to improve the mental health of their workforce include identifying the right virtual care partner and seeding the right cultural shift.

Additionally, with the pandemic sending workers home to work en masse, the goal for many has become restoring manual processes that have either failed completely or been crippled. It’s become clear that with workers at home, manual processes no longer work and operations will need to be restored with aggressive process automation. At the same time, tactical steps for tackling coronavirus will help drive strategic automation goals.

As organizations cope with coronavirus, they should consider adaptive workforce strategies that avoid damaging layoffs, including exploring furloughs as a better option, and exploring automation technologies (i.e. robotics, artificial intelligence) to help continue operations.

Forrester Senior Analyst Arielle Trzcinski, and VPs/Principal Analysts Rob Koplowitz and J.P. Gownder are available to discuss these insights further.