We all know that Covid has brought new pressures, constant changes, uncertain futures, reduced hours, newly shared responsibilities, and so much more. Hands up if you’d even heard the word “furlough” before March. Thought not. I’d have guessed that it was some kind of farming term, something to do with a plough, perhaps…
Anyway, back to our stressed workers… High levels of stress rarely bring out the best in our people. The best way to counter stress and keep your people -and your business- healthy in times like this is with the power of resilience. Resilient employees are more open to change and are quicker to recover from the inevitable knocks.
So, can you build resilience in your people?
The good news is that you can! But you need to know what their burning issues and key concerns are. And you need to understand and empathise with these pressure points. Open, two-way comms is more important right now than ever before, and I urge all employers to look at their comms strategy under a high-powered microscope!
One of the critical issues for many workers right now is a lack of clarity. And this isn’t all the fault of the employer. The virus has called for ever- and rapidly changing government advice, and the economy is in a terrifying state of flux. However, what you do know, and what you can share absolutely must be shared. A small reassurance is still a reassurance, and is worth its weight in Wispa Golds right now. (What can I tell you? Lockdown has turned me into a chocoholic!) Employees need reassurance to regain their sense of control and maintain their focus on the job in hand.
Emotional support is also essential during times of stress. Virtual hugs, when physical ones aren’t allowed, are highly recommended. If you’ve noticed co-workers acting differently, it’s probably because they’re dealing with more than they’re used to. Or more than they can handle. Be empathetic, be gentle, approach volatile situations with kindness and understanding.
Encouraging your people to appreciate and recognise each other, as well as expressing your own gratitude and appreciation for what they are doing and facing every day is a great way to build resilience across a team, even and especially if they’re newly dispersed.
Employee burnout has been a growing concern for most employers for some time. Technology, sadly, actually helps to blur the boundaries of work and home life, and employees who are newly working from home and afraid of losing their jobs are far more likely to blur that boundary into annihilation. Overworked employees make more mistakes and bad decisions, and are more likely to burn out completely, leading to extended sick leave or higher staff turnover for employers. Keep an eye on your people, do your best to encourage a healthy work/life balance – see also points one and two above!
To best build resilience in your people, you need to lead by example. Your people will be greatly influenced by your behaviour, and that of their direct leaders. Be optimistic and maintain a positive, problem-solving approach at all times. Spread positivity and appreciation through whatever means you can.
Be human, empathetic, relatable. This builds trust and better connections with our people.
And, where possible, demonstrate how your people’s work benefits the business. They wouldn’t be there if they did nothing for the company, but they may not see that. Employees understanding the value and importance of what they do gives them a sense of belonging and a reinforced sense of purpose. What better way to feel resilient than to feel important? Also, staff who feel that their work is of value are more likely to persist and continuously improve.
If you are an employer or a leader, now is the time to build the resilience in your people. You will reap the rewards before the pandemic is over.