We’re all been experiencing the effects of the pandemic for a few months. And chances are, you’ve begun to think about whatever the “new normal” is that people are talking about.
What is going to change permanently?
What will revert to how it was before the pandemic?
How will our jobs/company function for the foreseeable future?
You’ve got your mind on the future along with everyone else. You’ve seen all the posts about returning to work, what companies can expect when they reopen, etc.
In the first few weeks of the stay-at-home orders, it was challenging to have a conversation that didn’t revolve around the pandemic. Like at all. Leaders spent a lot of time reassuring their teams that everything would be ok, that they didn’t expect them to be perfect, that it was ok to feel anxious or scared.
And this was the right thing to do. During any time of transition (pandemic or not), employees need reassurance that they’re allowed to take time to adjust, to make mistakes, and to struggle.
It’s a critical part of ensuring the psychological health of your employees, boosting a positive company culture, and developing trust-based relationships within your company structure. And generally, after a while, you can expect the transition period will come to an end, and you can begin looking for a higher level of consistency from your employees.
But this isn’t a normal transition. It isn’t a merger; it isn’t a change in leadership or processes; it doesn’t have that lovely, reliable beginning, middle, and end that comes with most other transitions.
Sure, it had a beginning, but we have no way of knowing exactly when this will all be over. We’ve been told to expect multiple waves of shut-downs and stay at home periods that could reach into the next two years. And no matter who you are, whether or not your job has been affected, you will experience the effects of the pandemic in your life.
Becoming emotionally winded
So your company leaders did all the check-ins and wellness reviews they could when the pandemic started. But often, those precious one-on-one check-ins that everyone is raging about are emotionally draining. You’ve begun to get tired of hearing about it, living it, and trying to work around it.
For leaders who made significant attempts to increase communication with their teams and to offer support to employees one-on-one, it wouldn’t be surprising if they have begun to feel drained.
Those check-ins demand emotional presence; they require tact, patience, and genuine connection. All of which takes energy. Not to mention the extra effort it requires to do this stuff remotely. Plus, if you’re a leader, who’s checking in on you? No one? Your cat?
If you’re not emotionally drained by now, just wanting to focus on the work at hand, you’re probably part of a select few. The novelty of working from home is no longer filling the gap of social connection and society being open. For the majority of people, the consensus sounds something like, “We’re sick of talking about COVID, and we just want things to go back to normal.”
Making it sustainable
When the pandemic first struck and everyone was experiencing their first few weeks at home, the video calls, virtual happy hours, and one-on-one check-ins were running rampant. But now that we’re all tired and burned out, those key actions are becoming more and more difficult to maintain.
And unfortunately, there is no one solution to make it easier. But letting check-ins slide because you’d rather focus on your work and ignore the pandemic isn’t a good solution. Those who are prone to isolation, anxiety, and distraction are now at even higher risk of losing their path.
It’s critical we continue to consistently check in with each other. If you’re a leader who’s feeling burned out on check-ins, consider setting up a buddy system and encourage team members to check in on one another. Spread the responsibility around to your whole team. Get a monthly or weekly happy hour back on your calendar. Collaborate with your HR team to get information out about how employees can seek support if they need it. Does your company offer an EAP, or maybe deductible or discounted virtual therapy? If not, you can point them in the direction of free services available in your state or county.
Remember, this is a long haul. To maintain the health of our communities, we need to buckle down on our wellness plans and cement them into our weekly schedules. This is not the time to let them slide.
If anything, the “new normal” will be more people and wellness-focused. So if you want to think about the future, go ahead. Just don’t forget to include the vital acts of community support and wellness that we all need so badly today.
Recruiting and retaining employees is easier when you can proudly offer a comprehensive benefits plan that makes your team members feel as valuable as they are. At Raffa, we build cost effective, long-lasting employee benefits strategies to keep your business and your employees in optimum health.
Photo by Aleksandr Davydov