WMU Promotes Well-being to Lessen Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic

From 29-31 August, the first face-to-face meeting of the Nordplus research project took place in Tallinn, Estonia. “Dealing with anxiety during a pandemic to improve adult well-being” was the theme of the meeting that involved the project partners who include the World Maritime University (WMU), the Education Innovations Transfer Centre (Latvia), NGO Estonian Institute for Open Society Research (Estonia), and the Center For Adult Learning Vilnius Gabriele Petkevicaite-Bite Adult Education Centre (Lithuania).

The main aim of Nordplus is to contribute to diminishing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on workplaces by the development and implementation of training for leaders and employees of organizations, including in the maritime sector. During the partners meeting, detailed planning of project activities were carried out, project monitoring tools created, and a strategy developed for publicity of the project as well as dissemination of the results. In addition, a survey was created for managers and other employees to determine the training needs of organizations, including maritime organizations. Participants of the meeting were introduced to the results of the Erasmus+ project "From Emotional Management to Emotional Resilience" (EMER), aimed at strengthening emotional resilience.

The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected workplaces and individuals’ work-life balance, resulting in potentially impaired psychological well-being of employees. Remote work, limited opportunities for socialization, the pressures of home-schooling, etc. are situations that may cause higher levels of stress and anxiety. During emotional stress, peer support plays an important role, and the understanding and ability of a company or institution's management to provide favourable psycho-emotional and psychosocial conditions in work teams is particularly important. However, leaders do not always have enough knowledge and skills to lead a team in a particularly high emotional risk condition.

The expected results of Nordplus include: 1) to develop and pilot a unique, systematic, and well thought out training programme that is easily adaptable to support leaders in successfully reducing pandemic related anxiety and successively enhance the well-being of their employees through a positive psycho-emotional and psychosocial workplace environment, 2) to promote the practical inclusion of the training programme in adult education agendas, 3) to prepare trainers to implement the training programme, and 4) to provide practical training for managers of companies and institutions.

The specific role of WMU involves contributing to the development of the training material and the adaptation of the material for maritime organizations and leaders. Assistant Professor Inga Bartusevičienė, WMU principal investigator highlighted that “in addition to other measures to be put in place by organizations to lessen the impact of COVID-19 pandemic at the workplace, education and training of maritime and oceans leaders on mental health is fundamental to build a healthy workplace and move towards a culture of care in the maritime industry.” WMU Research Associate, Dr Maria Carrera Arce added, “Cultivating resilience at workplaces helps employees and managers to deal with stress and anxiety while making organizations more adaptable to changes and uncertainty.”

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