With the current racial pandemic, the economy rebuilding, businesses and individuals recovering from COVID-19, we have been turned upside down and shaken into fear and uncertainty. So many unanswered questions during this transition, and little time to think about strategic planning. Fast decision making is key for leaders as they adapt and flex their leadership style to fit the current state of the economy. In a world filled with uncertainty and fear, how can business owners and employers provide their people with the tools to create a safe and supportive environment?
We find ourselves wondering how to put back the pieces from what was taken from us. Employers and business owners now have even more responsibilities and stress laid upon them. We need to address not only the financial side of our business but also the emotional side of our corporate culture.
It all starts with outsourcing the right resources to help your employees feel more stable. When employees are faced with fear and uncertainty, they are more likely to make mistakes, miss deadlines, produce less, and be resistant to change. This can be costly to an organization and hurt their bottom line. With this in mind, it is important to take on solution-based approaches and corrective responses that will empower employees and make the workplace a safe and supportive environment.
The “why” is simple yet often overlooked and pushed under the rug. When addressing employee’s post-COVID, it is critical to take on an emotional crisis response and provide outlets for people to discuss the fears that are holding them back from being effective in the workplace. When emotions are overlooked it impacts innovation, creativity, production, decision making, and the ability to bring our best self to work. The key is to build a toolkit of resources to process and give options to our employees.
The first thing on our agenda is addressing any elephant in the room and clearly laying out expectations, protocols, policies, and goals for the organization. Second, it is important to address any losses with employees. Grieving and acknowledging what was lost during these pandemics helps people move forward. By taking the time to process these emotions, we are building trust within our organization. Talking about how it was difficult to lay off people, cut costs and benefits, and address any loss due to Covid-19 is significant to help employees heal and move on. These crucial conversations open the door to trust and support.
Once we address the painful experience, we want to give the emotional space for our employees to feel heard and seen. When creating this safe place, it is important to be clear that we are holding this space and put a start and end time just like any other meeting. Upon holding the safe space for our employees, we want to transition into a fun or enjoyable activity to build connections and move forward.
For example, have a reboot meeting and have it last for 60 minutes. Create a clear agenda and time for discussion around the topic of loss, fear, and anxiety. We recommend bringing in a mediator or facilitator to help with this process, but also assign HR to help navigate the reboot meeting. In the meeting, set the tone, by sharing that this is a meeting or a space to talk about the challenges, loss, and anxiety that occurred within the organization throughout the pandemic.
Once we set the stage and create a trusting atmosphere, as a leader we want to share our grievances and loss. When we talk about how working remotely has been difficult and how uncertainty has challenged the livelihood of this organization, we create a space for people to share about their uncertainty and fears. Then talk about what we have done to overcome some of those situations give people ideas and strategies to help themselves. By setting the example and sharing how we overcame some of the fears or challenges, shows resilience and authentic leadership. It helps people feel comfortable and facilitates openness. By shifting into a strategy or resources, also give employees the mindset that they are not stuck or victims of their own circumstance, we are sharing that there are options and choices available. When our meeting is coming to an end, it is important to take 10-15 minutes to recap the main themes that came from the meeting, then talk about strategies, resources, or tips that were shared. Closing the meeting with an inspiring message, or words of appreciation can help reset the tone and give our employees hope. It is important to use employees’ names as much as we can. It helps them feel involved in our message and it also can give them a sense of belonging in our organization. It is all about creating connection points. Then it is time to move into an activity that feels good. It could be a team lunch, donuts and coffee, game night, potluck, or an outing. We don’t have to make it expensive or extravagant. It just has to be fun and promote connection. This moves our employees up the emotional scale and further rebuilds trust. With this reboot meeting in mind, we might have to run a few different sessions to limit the number of people per the government policies for social distancing.
We recommend having a follow-up meeting to ensure that the organization is healing. Our world is changing and things will never return to how they use to be. By having tools and strategies to best serve your employees, you can create a safe place and emotional shift towards rebuilding a culture of care and concerns. By putting our employees first and taking their individual needs into consideration, we are giving them the space to bring their best selves to work.
To learn more about our reintegration program click here: https://peagramconsulting.com/online-course-from-peagram-consulting/
Pleases reach out if you need any coaching, consulting, or training. We are here to support you as we redefine our normal.
Until Next Time,
Kortney Peagram, Ph.D.
Owner and Founder of Peagram Consulting & Bulldog Solution