Post-Lockdown Transition Stress & Strategies
What does the ‘New Normal” look like for you? Transitioning back to the workplace is yet another stressful period for most people, for many different reasons.
On BBC Radio recently, I spoke about the things both EMPLOYERS and EMPLOYEES should consider over the next few months to make the transition as smooth as possible. Here are some of my insights on this weird situation we find ourselves in.
Real-Life Transitioning Issues
Sali (not her real name) has been able to avoid a bullying colleague during lockdown, and is now very worried about having to work with in-person with them again.
A UK tech company wants to implement a series of online workshops to support the workforce’s wellbeing and productivity while they discover and co-create their “new normal”.
A global not-for-profit needs a performance appraisal system that they can confidently deliver remotely, without having to rely on in-person meetings.
Does any of this resonate with you, or your company? What’s your specific concern at this time? Are you facing up to it, or trying to paper-over the issues secretly hoping they will go away? Thankfully, I know I can help these clients despite the range of issues they present, but I know that there are many more who are not prepared or equipped to solve their issues effectively.
Wellbeing for the Workforce
In addition to health and safety requirements, organisations need to effectively support their workforce wellbeing. Some staff have lost loved ones and are still mourning. Others are exhausted parents desperate to get out of the house. Some will be anxious about commuting to and from the workplace. Others will be keen to get back to having more structure to enable a better work-life balance.
Maintaining Trust Through Change
Transition and change is difficult and uncomfortable at any time, but under the circumstances we’re all vulnerable to higher levels of anxiety. We are more likely to misunderstand what’s being communicated, and less likely to trust that other people are considering our needs.
Employers – my call to action for you is to gauge how your workforce is feeling so you can provide appropriate and tailored solutions. As well as considering health and safety, employers should be communicating with their workforce more frequently than ever before to maintain a high level of trust, sense of psychological safety, so that they feel valued.
Employees – my call to action for you is to be brave and speak to your colleagues, manager, HR department directly about your concerns.
But how on earth do you do this with “so much to do” and “everyone is so busy”? You prioritise. It’s honestly that simple. If you and your organisation are seriously interested in having a healthy transition, a happier workforce, and maintaining or improving productivity, then align your short-term goals and make it your main focus.
(But if you’re just looking for a tick-box exercise, stop reading now, send out an automated survey and disregard the data you don’t like). Now is the time to re-write the “new normal” playbook.
Being Courageous & Compassionate
When asking for feedback, it’s important to encourage honesty in a constructive way. But right now your workforce might need to let off some steam.
You could create space for this by encouraging colleagues to be honest about how they are feeling without trying to quieten them or divert the subject.
Begin by asking them what their main stressors are, and give them time to dump these things down on to paper or talk about them in great detail. They need to feel listened to and understood.
This is not a costly exercise, and when it’s facilitated well, it can reveal golden insights into issues that HR and managers might need to urgently address.
Re-Write Your New Normal
Refer to the short list of prompts below to get you thinking about questions you should be asking your staff, and yourself.
1. What are you most concerned about when you consider transitioning back to the workplace?
2. What actions can your manager or the organisation take to reduce your level of concern?
3. What is working well at the moment, and how can this be maintained?
4. What changes to your working life would you make to improve your wellbeing?
5. What changes to your personal life could you make to improve your wellbeing?
Then Try This
A. Create 'Coaching Circles' among colleagues and co-workers to provide a safe, inclusive space for work-related discussions
B. Explore deeper cultural challenges in the organisation - now is a great time to make significant changes
C. Hire a consultant business psychologist to help you to calm things down
D. Hire a consultant business psychologist to help you shake things up
E. Work with a leadership coach to improve your confidence and enable you to support others better
If you’re considering any of the options above, and you’d like to find out how I can help, please click the button to view my online calendar, choose a day and time that works for you.