From sickness and loss, to work-from-home freedom or an enjoyable break, everyone’s experience of lockdown has been different. As the government encourages us all to come back to the workplace, how can you unite your people for post-lockdown success?
Here are five key issues you need to consider in order to get your people back up to speed and working together harmoniously once more.
1. Everyone is coming back with a different story
It’s safe to say that lockdown has been a unique experience for every individual.
Some will have lost loved ones, cared for family or friends, or been sick themselves. For some, more family time has been a gift; for others a terrible strain. Many parents have become teachers. Those juggling toddlers with full-time work may have had to work anti-social hours around childcare.
People living on their own may have suffered isolation, desperately missing contact with colleagues. For others, commuter-free days, working flexible hours or discovering home-baking and macramé skills during furlough, has been a joy.
It’s essential that managers make the effort to understand each one of their team members’ experiences and treat them accordingly. Giving your people time and room to share their experiences is a great way to start.
2. Relationships with colleagues could be affected by these disparate experiences
You will have a mix of employees with different experiences, coming back together for the first time.
Furloughed colleagues may feel that their position is less secure. Non-furloughed workers may resent the ‘extended holiday’ others have enjoyed.
Any kind of compromised remuneration, from 80% furlough pay, to partial pay-cuts or loss of commission, will have had an impact on people’s immediate standard of living. Some will feel under financial pressure. Others may be quite relaxed.
The result may be that colleagues who have rubbed along nicely before, may now face new frictions or issues, as differing perspectives and recent histories collide.
Managers need to tune-in to colleague relationships. Creating a chance for people to get back together and share their experiences can create a new starting point for everyone, post-lockdown
3. How they view you – their employer – may have changed
Furloughed employees will undoubtedly have been reflecting on their career, perhaps re-evaluating what matters to them, worrying about the future, potentially exploring new opportunities.
People who have worked from home may have decided that the commute is no longer tenable. Or quite the opposite; the desire to separate home and work may have become their top priority.
The people who have worked throughout, at home or in the workplace, may have a feeling of Dunkerque spirit. They helped the organisation through. Perhaps they feel that they deserve a reward, or some kind recognition. But how might that affect the people furloughed against their will, who didn’t have a chance to show their loyalty?
And of course you may have had to let people go. Where does that leave the morale of those still with you – particularly those that were furloughed and feel vulnerable?
However strong or distinct your working culture before lockdown, it’s essential you re-establish your values and purpose in the mind of your employees as soon as you possibly can.
4. You need to allow people to adjust at their own pace
Some people will be desperate to dive back-in, all guns blazing. Great, let them go at it. For others, it may take much longer to make the mental adjustment, to find their confidence and to start making a full contribution.
It’s really important that along with all of the COVID-safety precautions you introduce, that you have a ‘reboarding’ strategy in place, which includes clear processes for people in need, and access to support.
An opportunity to chat with colleagues and review expectation with managers might be enough for some. But you should also offer more structured access to mental health support services for people who may be struggling with new issues thrown up by the pandemic and the disruption it caused in their lives.
You need to make it clear to employees that you understand the challenges of returning to work and make sure a wide range of support is in place.
5. It’s time to unite your people
You need to reunite your people quickly if you are to get your organisation back up to speed for the challenges ahead.
Given the fact that you are bringing people with vastly different experiences together, some kind of team-building exercise makes sense.
But how can you manage that in a COVID-friendly manner? How can you do it in a way that unites your people around a common purpose? And how can you include people who have come back, and those that are still working from home?
Peter Lindsay, Managing Director of o3e, the charity team building specialist, says that blended face-to-face and online events, with a common charity purpose, can help bring people together and provide a platform to create a sense of post-lockdown togetherness.
“We have face-to-face and live online versions of team-building challenges, like our Charity Bike Build or OnBoard. These bring people together, remind them of your values and unite them in a common purpose – giving something to charity.
It’s a great way to open discussions, build camaraderie and show you care, for your staff, and for vulnerable communities who have suffered disproportionally during lockdown.”
“The great news is that the government is now allowing live events for up to 30 people. And we can accommodate 500 plus people in online challenges.”
Charity team-building is a great way to bring your people together, even if you are far apart. Ask o3e to create a bespoke event designed around your values and your post-lockdown objectives.
News of a Virtual Business Event
Join us for a virtual cuppa on 3rd September to discuss the post furlough work place more details here