March 11, 2021
by Andrew Beaumont
How to help your employees cope with the anniversary of the COVID pandemic
Yes it’s a Die Hard reference to try and lighten a topic that I didn’t want to write about. Let's discuss the elephant in the room first. Die Hard is clearly a Christmas movie.
It’s been almost a year since the UK’s first national lockdown and despite the vaccine being the light at the end of this very long tunnel, the effects of COVID-19 look to be here to stay for at least a little while longer.
I don’t say this to be negative, as I've tried to remain positive throughout the pandemic. I’m just trying to be realistic. The whole world has been tested, businesses have been challenged and HR leaders have had to adjust daily to keep up… but our job isn’t done yet. For HR in particular, there has been some huge changes we’ve had to deal with as we support our people and help businesses to adapt.
Now, as we come up to the anniversary that nobody asked for, the government have announced their plans of how they see the UK opening again and there are a lot of positive signs that business is returning to (some semblance of) normality.
So, what can you do to make sure you’re supporting your employees to make the road back to ‘business as usual’ as smooth as possible?
Here’s are a couple of places to start:
Offer extra support during the onboarding process
Despite the belief that unemployment is at an all time high, a recent survey by the CIPD found that more than half of UK employers plan to recruit in 2021. Even throughout the pandemic, a lot of businesses have still been recruiting and onboarding new workers; the majority of which are being done virtually.
Starting a new job is hard enough – you have to meet the team, build relationships, get to grips with your role and understand new systems. Trying to do all this through a computer makes it even tougher.
Plus a lot of new starters struggle in a new job even without the added factor of a global pandemic to deal with. It’s common for a lot of new staff members to hold back from voicing any concerns they have as they fear they might undermine themselves in front of their new boss. This is only going to be exacerbated if they’re working remotely and physically isolated from the business.
Take this into account if you’re onboarding new staff at the moment and place extra focus on your onboarding process.
This also applies to team members returning to work after parental leave, illness, or furlough.
Coming back to work can feel like starting all over again. Make sure you are regularly checking in to make sure your team are comfortable and have everything they need to fulfil their roles.
Keep them in the loop
One of the biggest stressors for employees right now is that they fear their job security. It’s understandable, there’s a lot of change going on and staff are guaranteed to be worried about what it could mean for them.
Change can manifest itself in various formats – restructures, relocation, downsizing and redundancy are a few examples. All of which hold negative connotations for employees and often make them feel very unsettled.
They fear for the future and how any negative change could impact them individually.
However, this can be easily remedied.
It’s all about open communication – yes, that old chestnut. I’ve mentioned it before, and I’ll most definitely mention it again but keeping a direct line of contact with your teams is so important.
Honesty is the best policy
Transparency is best when it comes to communicating with your teams. Even an update as brief as “we don’t know what’s happening right now, but we’ll let you know as soon as we do” can go along way when it comes to employee engagement.
There’s a huge threat of change hanging over us all, and for a lot of people change is only ever a bad thing. Sometimes a little bit of reassurance and open, honest, and frequent communication helps you make sure your staff are coping with the changes.
The best businesses, and the best managers, are those that understand that their teams are people. Understanding and addressing how people react to change is all part of this and by doing so you can make sure they have everything they need to cope – even as the world around us continues to change! Hopefully soon we will all be able to ‘come out to the coast, we’ll get together, have a few laughs’.
Lost in the changes?
If you’re feeling overwhelmed trying to keep up with the constant changes, don’t worry – I’m here to help. Just drop me an email (email@example.com) or pick up the phone (01788 228608) and we can figure out the best plan of action for you.
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