As businesses prepare for their employees to return to the workplace, I have some suggestions for leaders and owners to support the wellbeing of everyone in the organisation.
I recognise that many businesses will be facing difficult decisions in the coming months as they work out how they are going to survive and then thrive in the future. This can lead us to focus on outcomes, rather than our people. I would urge leaders to recognise that you and your team have been through a difficult and challenging few months. Don’t expect things to return to “normal” on Day 1. The Covid-19 crisis has been a traumatic event that has hit every part of our society and it is likely to have had a significant impact on the people that you work with.
Trauma means that individuals can feel:
- Unable to cope
- Distanced from their range of emotions
Accept that this may be the baseline for many members of your team. My advice for leaders is:
- Be patient and be kind. Don’t take negative emotions to heart. Team members may be angry, frightened, depressed or irritable.
- Be available for your team and reassure them that their responses are natural and will subside over time
- Allow people the time and space to talk about how they are really feeling. Don’t take negative emotions to heart.
- Check-in with your people daily. Make it a routine to normalise talking about “real stuff” and that they can take a “time out” if they need it.
- Check-in with your emotions – are you doing ok? If not, go and talk to someone you trust
- Let go of judgement. Accept people are struggling and that we deal with challenges in different ways
I realise that this might feel like extra emotional work when, as a leader, you want to focus on rebuilding your business and organisation but investing the time and effort in your team now will make you all more resilient, effective and ready for whatever the future holds.