Sometimes you have to look for the gift in the challenge. The particular gift I’d like to share in this article is the gift of wellbeing taking its rightful place at the executive leadership table – and we have Covid to thank for that.
1. One of the most important Gifts that the Challenge of Covid gave us
No-one wants to hear a rehashing of 2020, but what we have observed is of such importance that we can’t let it go without mention.
When we spoke with people in organisations, they often expressed frustration around the approach taken to wellbeing, – it was being perceived as a focus on (please forgive our flippancy here) ‘replacing Tim Tams with apples on the reception desk’ and ‘offering a discounted membership to a local gym’.
Last year Covid changed all that. Suddenly we were faced with situations where employee wellbeing included deeply challenging issues such as:-
- The mental challenges of trying to stay productive whilst working from the ‘home office’ (insert ‘corner of bedroom with curtain as backdrop’) and confusion around ‘are we working from home or living at work?’
- Home schooling children and having no-one to drop in and chat with
- Fear of losing work, income and job security
- Domestic abuse/violence in the home
- Managers and supervisors were thrust into the need to have difficult and often delicate conversations that they felt ill-equipped to handle. Asking “are you OK?” moved from being a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘must have’. How do we respond when someone says “No, I’m not OK”?
The gift that the challenge of Covid gave us was that employee wellbeing is now firmly on the agenda of Executive Leadership Teams; no longer a ‘tick in the box’ course to offer, but rather a key performance indicator of an engaged and healthy workforce on many levels, including, but not limited to:-
- Physical wellbeing – ensuring people are educated on the need for quality sleep, healthy nutrition and regular exercise
- Mental wellbeing – giving people the tools and strategies to manage their thinking, attention, focus and mental energy
- Emotional wellbeing – equipping people with the knowledge and tools to understand, manage and regulate their emotions, so that they can stay engaged and productive.
Our hope is that this continues with employee wellbeing measured regularly and paid the attention it deserves. So thank you Covid, lesson learned, now please move on
2. Adapting to the ‘New Normal’ – Tips for Transition
We have observed organisations going through 3 key phases in the last 12 months:-
- Survival mode – when Covid hit, the number one priority was to keep everyone safe
- Logistics mode – shortly after, we quickly had to figure out working without printers, information sharing, Zoom mastering, cyber security, etc.
- The ‘New Normal’ mode – now, we’re figuring out what on earth ‘the new normal’ is, focusing on new logistics such as hybrid working, desk spacing, transport, what policies and procedures need to be changed and, most importantly, how we keep our culture alive and our people motivated, engaged and productive.
For many, the ‘new normal’ can be an unsettling time. Productivity can remain high in times of emergency through fear, which produces adrenaline, giving us the energy to perform. Now, many people are change weary, confused about the future and struggling to stay or get back on track.
One thing that took a lesser priority for many was professional development, especially for soft skills, and this is now starting to show in signs of resisting change, struggling to manage emotions and conflict resulting from mis-communication.
Here are some tips, taken from our Dealing with Change and Building Resilience programme, that might help people transitioning to the new normal:-
- Help people see what’s still the same – many things may have changed, and many have not. Work together as a team to identify what’s still the same; this will help restore some certainty and stability – two of our core social needs
- Switch the focus to gains over losses – we have a built-in negativity bias and, when we are change weary, this is particularly prevalent. Work with your team to identify all the gifts in the challenge that last year has brought and what there is to look forward to
- Check in and connect regularly – in your team meetings or one on ones, how much focus is placed on wellbeing and how team members are faring? Ensure that your check-ins are more than just task and progress focused – include a conversation about how everyone is dealing with the ‘new normal’ and what immediate and ongoing help they might need. Food for thought – do you have a strong enough culture of psychological safety to enable this?
3. Introducing our now Fully Virtual and Online ‘Dealing with Change and Building Resilience Programme’
Last year we, like many others, focused our time and energy in working to adapt our programmes for a virtual environment, without compromising on quality, and we are thrilled to announce that our ‘Dealing with Change and Building Resilience’ Programme is now fully online and virtual.
We have focused on creating a learning experience that is engaging, interactive, fun, self-paced and designed with brain-friendly learning in mind.
There are 6 Modules, a pre and post programme assessment to enable participants to measure their progress, and interactive webinars to support the application of the knowledge, tools and strategies learned.
Many charities have struggled for funds in this Covid time and as such we have committed to donating 10% of this programme’s revenue to Queensland-based charity Free to Shine.
If you think this could be of value to your organisation, we would love to chat to you about how we can help boost resilience and build change agility with your people.