As our lives became more isolated during the pandemic, the interest in online happiness courses dramatically increased. What’s behind this new phenomenon?
While some people were perfecting their cooking and homebrewing skills, others were upskilling at home – studying online. In fact, The Science of Well-Being course at Yale University has seen a nearly 300% increase in enrolment numbers in recent months, and The Science of Happiness course at the University of California (UC), Berkeley, has beaten its own enrolment record by attracting half a million students worldwide. Meditation apps, digital fitness classes and cookery courses all saw a marked increase in enrolment, however, the move towards resources centering on happiness is a clear indication of how stay-at-home measures have affected the emotional state of populations.
An epidemic of loneliness
Recent research has shown that globally loneliness had reached extremely high levels prior to the pandemic, especially among Gen Z, and, in some cases, the effects of the isolation associated with COVID-19 might have exacerbated our circumstances.
As people have been asked to isolate at home, and physical distancing is still required in most countries, it’s natural for some people to feel anxious and experience loneliness, which could explain why so many people have been searching for ways to deepen their connection with others.
‘As the world feels like it’s spinning out of control, learning what we can control will be vital to finding the silver lining during the age of coronavirus,’ commented Laurie Santos, a Yale professor of psychology, during an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in March this year. Perhaps we can’t always control the feelings of loneliness and isolation, but we can heighten our awareness of what we are feeling and gain a better understanding of how to build resilience, explains Professor Santos.
Prioritising employee wellness
According to the World Economic Forum, one of the key takeaways from the keen interest in education technology during the pandemic has been the importance of disseminating knowledge across borders, companies and all parts of society. And while its full potential is still being explored, e-learning is bound to play a big role in the ‘new normal’.
With the increased levels of remote working, companies are also paying more attention to employee wellness by creating online health and wellness programmes to support mental and physical wellbeing. DAN offices all over the world have given employees access to meditation apps, yoga classes and mindfulness materials, to mention just a few. With so much uncertainty still surrounding our new normal, and the long-term prospect of physical distancing, it becomes imperative that employers continue to create online communities for wellness and learning.
As demonstrated by the interest in the Yale and UC courses, online learning has become an unexpected lifeline since the outbreak of COVID-19, and with the advantage of time, people have been able to arrange their schedules so that they can conveniently upskill.
Responding to the need, DAN created a new Learning Community for its global employees. This one-stop learning hub gives our employees access to all the learning opportunities available online. In addition, weekly Live Learning sessions have been launched, with a variety of topics that are refreshed fortnightly. Globally, the uptake in these sessions has exceeded expectations and the feedback on the topics and presenters has been increasingly positive. Skill Academy has also seen a global increase in its usage numbers as our employees take the time to build their future-facing skills. Dentsu Creative Academy is the latest addition to Dentsu’s online-learning offering, providing inspirational curated courses and tools at your fingertips.
If the boom in online-course enrolment during this socially isolating pandemic is anything to go by, learning is a significant part of mental wellbeing.