The key to creating an environment that will allow your talent to thrive.
As some of us are gradually returning to work, wouldn’t it be nice to have a clear understanding of what the new normal actually looks like? Unfortunately, not many companies have a clear return-to-work strategy, and there is a great deal of uncertainty about agile working policies, health and safety, and plans for responding to future potential outbreaks.
Some organisations have had a fragmented approach in communicating their policies with their employees. I understand that things are still evolving, but so is the world of business and companies still have well-structured go-to-market strategies in spite of ever-changing competitive and market landscapes.
Like all strategic plans, a return-to-work strategy can always be reviewed and tweaked, so there is no excuse to not have one even in times of uncertainty. I have heard some executives say, “but I don’t know what the future will look like”. You have the power to create your own future and shape your new normal by, among other things, making sure you integrate the demands and expectations of your employees.
Don’t wait passively for the new normal to slowly unfold and shape itself before you. Be proactive, creative and compassionate – shape an environment that will welcome the talent that you protect and preserve.
If you don’t take action, the new normal will be shaped by someone or something other than yourself, and you might not like what that new normal looks like.
There is a significant divide between what leaders think their companies are offering in terms of employee support and how employees think and feel about it.
Do you believe that you are providing sufficient support to your team during this return-to-work phase? Are you investing enough in the wellbeing of your employees? According to recent research from the IBM Institute for Business Value, you may not be doing as much as your employees actually need.
The study, which gathered data from thousands of executives and employees in over 20 countries, showed that there is a significant divide between what leaders think their companies are offering in terms of employee support and how their employees think and feel about the actual support they are receiving.
For example, 80% of the executives surveyed say that they are supporting the physical and emotional health of their workforce, but only 46% of their employees agree. What’s alarming is that these divergent views extend to almost all of the employers’ responses to the pandemic, from clearly communicating with employees to helping employees to learn the skills required to work in a hybrid (home and office) environment.
I have heard quite a few leaders express their frustration over their efforts not being recognised and appreciated, especially when dealing with the pressures and challenges presented by the current changing and uncertain environment. But the employees are under pressure as well as they try to keep themselves healthy and safe whilst delivering on their professional responsibilities.
If leaders don’t step up their efforts significantly and start to offer first-level support to meet their people’s wellbeing needs, they will see their key talent flock like migratory birds to companies that did decide to invest in employee wellbeing as soon as the job market recovers.
After all, the leader’s values will be reflected in their action or inactions.
A simple message showing that you care, can make your dear ones/someone healthier.
Some of us have been better able to cope with the social isolation brought to us by the travel and movement restrictions, than others. Perhaps you have found a way to uplift your mood and build a level of emotional resilience that has allowed you to see things through.
If this is the case, I’m happy for you, but that means the job is half done.
It’s our responsibility to reach out to others regularly, whether they are family, friends or co-workers, and make sure that they are not feeling the physical, mental and the obvious emotional struggles of loneliness.
Social interaction is so hard-wired in us that isolation tricks our body into thinking it’s in danger. When our brain senses that we are lonely, our nervous system activates the fight-or-flight response, and our immune system turns off some of our antiviral defences. To make things worse, in its quest to divert resources to deal with this perceived threat, our immune system turns on an inflammatory reaction that raises the risk of contracting innumerable ill-health conditions.
That’s why I’d like to encourage you to reach out to at least one person a day who you think would benefit from social contact. It just takes a voice message, a text, an email, an emoticon or a phone call to help people in our immediate social network to be less exposed and debilitated by the experience of loneliness.
I read somewhere that “lonely is not being alone; it’s the feeling that no one cares”.
How we manage our limiting beliefs will have profound implications in our development.
When was the last time you heard yourself say “I won’t be able to do this”, or “I don’t think I’ll be able to manage”? In my case it was yesterday, and most likely the day before that as well. Everyone without exception experiences limiting beliefs – it’s part of being human.
How we manage those limiting beliefs has profound implications on our development as professionals, parents, partners and almost every role we engage with in life. If you have been entertaining a specific limiting belief that has been holding you back for quite some time, there is a simple yet very effective 4-step process for how to turn things around for yourself.
Step 1: – Awareness – Identify the limiting beliefs that are holding you back (I’m not good enough to accomplish X, I’m not smart enough to become Y, etc.).
Step 2. – Reflection – Ask yourself the following questions: What would I be without this belief? Who could I become without this belief? What is the opposite experience of this belief?
Step 3. – Affirmation – Inspired by the energy of your deep reflection, write down your new positive belief (I am good enough to accomplish X, I am smart enough to become Y, etc.).
Step 4. – Recall – Every time your limiting belief decides to crop up in your mind, counter that thought with your new positive belief by saying it out loud. This action will reinforce the neural pathway in your brain that supports the new positive belief.
Simple, powerful, and evidence-based. Give it a go and become the person you aspire to be.
Great leaders are strategic about caring for their people.
When I ask leaders to assess their efforts in promoting a culture of wellbeing in their businesses, more often than not they respond with “We’ve got it covered”, “We are doing well”, and so on. However, when I dig deeper using tools that objectively measure the level of wellbeing at their workplace, I find that this is not quite the case. My results often shock them, as they realise that their perception is divorced from reality.
It is 2021, and Gallup still reports that “Nearly 85% of employees worldwide are still not engaged or are actively disengaged at work, despite more effort from companies”. Authentic leaders who provide a unique and memorable work experience to their colleagues (which in turn drives business performance) have several things in common.
They recognise that their perception might be misleading, so they consistently measure their efforts in workplace wellbeing.
They compare their results against international standards and make the required investments to course-correct.
Rinse and repeat.
Good leaders never stop working on the workplace wellbeing in their company, because they understand that investing in employee wellbeing is not just about holding a health fair in March, a webinar in June and Yoga sessions on Friday mornings. It’s about consistency, objectivity, and empathy in measuring, planning and executing their efforts for workplace wellbeing every year, day in and day out.
We have to go beyond what we “think” is right and be strategic about workplace wellbeing. We have to put in the work and knowledge necessary to create a workplace culture that brings the best out of everyone.
Let’s make the most of the time that has been given to us.
Are you feeling a bit dull, bored and a bit jaded with all the restrictions that have been imposed? Welcome to the club! Most of the people I’m interacting with are more than fed up with how long this situation is taking to be resolved. I don’t blame them for feeling that way quite frankly.
However, the way I see it, we have two options: we can be morose, bad-tempered and disappointed, or we can make the most of the time that has been given to us.
Once we go back to living a normal life, wouldn’t it be nice to say to yourself: “During the period of restrictions, I learned to play a musical instrument”, or “I read all those books that have been sitting on my shelves for far too long, and developed a new skill on top of that!”
Would it not be nice if you knew you spent this time reconnecting with a childhood pastime, or taking on a new hobby, or found an exercise routine you love? If you learned to meditate or reconnected with people you trust and care about but haven’t seen in years because they live far away?”
In my case, I decided to learn how to play bass. Although I’m no Geddy Lee (Rush) or Paul McCartney, learning to play their songs has been a balm for the soul during this time.
So come on, redesign your days and evenings, and create something in your life that will help you navigate these restrictions. No matter how big or small, make it work, make it last and enjoy your gift for days to come.