When Stellenbosch University (SU) decided to suspend classes and eventually close its campus due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, many students and staff felt overwhelmed and uncertain about their future.
However, Marius Meyer saw it as an opportunity to give people some hope and much-needed perspective and tips on how to cope during a global pandemic.
The SU lecturer in Strategic Human Resources Management at the department of Industrial Psychology has been publishing a series of inspirational and helpful articles during the lockdown period in South Africa.
His articles covers topics such as The Power of Reflection, Building Resilience, Working from Home, Employee Wellness, Need for Leadership, Self-Management and Workplace Readiness, to name a few.
“I was hoping that the articles would give people some perspective on how to cope during a period of so much uncertainty, anxiety, stress and panic. People need some hope and direction in surviving this period of uncertainty and turmoil, looking after their health first, and then to continue living a life of survival, renewal and personal growth," says Meyer.
He has been working in the Human Resources industry for over twenty years, and believes that one of the reasons why we are in this lockdown period is because the real needs of people have been put on the back burner for years.
“I was always fascinated by the role of people in enabling businesses to be successful, hence my interest in the field of HR. I believe we must put people first and everything else will follow. That is the reason why we are in lockdown – for the first time ever we have to put people, their health and lives first."
Besides lecturing, Meyer is also involved in professional HR organisations. “The highlight in my career was when I was appointed as CEO of our professional body in HR Management, the SA Board for People Practices (SABPP). That provided me with an opportunity to support 8 000 HR managers on their professional journey, in particular when we developed the world's first set of national Human Resource Management standards. My biggest personal highlight in my career has been the development of a Leadership Standard for South Africa, enabling leaders to lead their organisations according to clear principles and practices. Another milestone has been the approval of Human Resource professionals as Commissioners of Oaths by the Minister of Justice."
In addition to his daily inspirational articles on COVID-19, he has also created a special discussion forum for his students about the pandemic. The platform allows his students to express their feelings and comment on any aspect of the crisis, while Meyer guides them to relate their discussions to their work as HR Management students.
“It has been wonderful for me to make the transition from traditional to online learning. Online learning presents a fantastic opportunity to use discussion forums in more innovative ways and to leverage the power of asking the right questions to really make students think and learn. As honours students in HR Management and Industrial Psychology, they must be empowered to first deal with COVID-19 while studying in lockdown, and secondly, I am preparing them to manage COVID-19 workplace programmes when they complete their studies by the end of the year."
Meyer also encourages people to reach out to others if they are feeling overwhelmed during this time and to write down tasks and goals to help them stay focused and positive despite the chaos around them.
He also hopes that organisations and company leaders will become more people-centred and address the gaps in the way people are treated at work and society at large.
“The world will never be the same again. We are entering into a new era in the next phase of the COVID-19 era. All of us need a radical new health and wellness paradigm shift in putting people and our health at the centre of society."
Click here, to read all the inspiring articles by Marius Meyer.