Last week, I presented at two conferences. As usual, I was fortunate to learn from participants. I want to share what people said regarding anxiety, stress, apprehension and more. And, I’m confident they took away some beneficial and actionable takeaways on navigating change, connecting five generations and succession planning. All good.
In the first quarter of 2021, I have presented at 14 events. I take notes so that my presentations remain up-to-date and always relatable. Let me tell you, folks are doing well, not doing so well and suffering. There is no one answer, but there are things to consider when asking staff to return to the workplace.
Make In-Person Work Gradual
1) Anxiety is real, people are suffering and it hits all levels within the organization. Employees have suffered, lost control of part of their lives and are still uncertain about their future as it pertains to their health…the pandemic. As an employer, you’ll likely lose talent if you force staff to return all at one. Instead, make it gradual. Just as we were forced into retreating into our homes, we’ll need time coming out of them. Routines are set, plans are made, working remote…works! Many organizations have pushed back their return to the office date to after Labor Day. An overwhelming majority of employees nationwide are in favor of this.
2) Listen to me, please! This is the #1 thing I have heard over the last year. To retain talent, grow productivity and business, we must become better leaders. This means listening to individuals without interruption. Listen with purpose. And, don’t comment without asking; saying “I have a few thoughts. May I share them with you”? This opens up a dialogue that will be better received by all parties. Sounds corny, right? Well, it works and I’ve heard this dozens and dozens of times. People are all sorts of stressed, hopeful and worn out. Sound familiar?
Anxiety can Affect Children Too
3) Anxiety comes at all levels and ages. 3-year-olds know something is going on in the world. They watch us for clues. Children had their lives and schooling turned inside out. Parents well let’s just say our plates are filled to overflowing. This leads to feeling crappy, anxious, mad, sad, stressed, apprehensive, uncertain and more.
For many, easing back to in-person work will need to be gradual. Many organizations are looking at Labor Day for a return with the understanding that this is fluid and dependent on many factors including pandemic recovery. Some jobs never went virtual; I get that. For those that have, consider this. If you want to retain employees, please consider training management to talk, listen and engage with respect and understanding. This will go a long way as we focus on our futures with renewed enthusiasm, continued stress and a desire to get back to a normal way of living.