How to prepare staff for the new normal
It looks like we’ve made it over the worst of the pandemic and seem to be getting back to “normal”. We can see loved ones again, eat out, travel or just go down the pub for a pint. We can also go back to work as normal. Although many will be excited for this return to normality, for some this may come with feelings of trepidation which is something you should take into consideration if you are a business owner or manage people in any capacity. How can leaders and HR teams prepare staff for the new normal?
Here are some tips on how you could prepare staff for the new normal:
Adopt a mindset of adaptability
According to April Rinne, global authority on the future of work and the digital economy, “a flux mindset” is what we need to navigate an uncertain future. She suggests that rather than not making any plans at all because we’re in “uncertain times”, we should make plans with the assumption that those plans will change. She asserts that people with a flux mindset will fair better than those who are simply waiting for the whole situation to be over.
How does this connect to preparing staff? Well you need to be willing to change and adapt even the most entrenched company practices if it no longer serves you and your staff. Working remotely was one of those things companies could have implemented at any time but everyone just did what was always done. Now, just because we can come back to the office doesn’t mean everyone should. Be willing to be flexible with staff as well as elsewhere in business and that’s bound to be healthier than expecting things to go back exactly as they were pre-COVID.
To paraphrase Darwin “it is the one who is most adaptable to change that survives”.
Better manage employee workload
Many people have been working from home full-time for over a year now so think about how you could ease staff back into the office environment. Perhaps you could use a staggered approach to bringing people back – starting off with 2-3 days back on-site for the first 2 months before coming back in full-time, which can be a bit of a daunting transition after being at home for so long.
There may be staff shortages due to redundancies made over the last year and a half, therefore keep an eye on the workload put onto your remaining team. Managers should be monitoring this and making sure staff have a suitable and manageable workload.
Regular but not excessive COVID testing
When coming back to the workplace, many employees are concerned about their safety and the safety of vulnerable family members if they were to catch coronavirus. To help them feel reassured and comfortable you could implement a practice of regular coronavirus testing for staff. Home testing is a simple yet effective way of making sure people infected with the virus are spotted quickly, especially if they are asymptomatic and staff will hopefully feel safer in the knowledge that others at work are testing regularly before coming in. Just once or twice a week should be enough though – any more than that and you’re probably just creating extra stress instead. CEME staff are asked to test twice weekly
Keep an eye on employee mental health
Experts have predicted a ‘’tsunami of psychiatric illness’’ in the aftermath of the lockdowns so as an employer you should make sure to check in with staff members individually, frequently to ensure they are coping ok.
You could also offer activities proven to help with mental health such as morning meditation sessions or exercise classes. At CEME we hosted a free Tai Chi class all though the summer for all of our members and staff.
Bring back in-person events and get-togethers
Now things have opened up again, organising some in-person events to begin socialising again could be a good way of helping staff get back into the flow again. It also gives the work-from-home crew a chance to meet with colleagues. It doesn’t matter if it’s to do with work or just a social, the point is to bring everyone together, interacting with each other in real life.
No matter how organisations decide to return to a new normal the most important thing to recognise is that empathy will go a long way. Empathy is winning. Health and wellbeing is the topic du jour and the evidence that companies who look after their staff are doing better economically is coming in thick and fast.