Most of us remember hearing the announcement of ‘Lockdown’: we’d seen Covid in China and watched it creep ever closer until the day it was confirmed here.
As a solution, ‘furlough’ was seen as an innovative way of protecting business, jobs and income, but the reality is that Lockdown has fragmented workforces and created pockets of low morale in managers and staff. This report is on how best to reinvigorate employees and restore levels of performance and loyalty.
These are the main areas I’ve noticed are causing problems:
I’m sure you won’t be surprised but most people are more than a touch fed-up with being so limited in what they’re allowed to do. Lockdown has created an environment of unwavering uncertainty! People’s quality of life is in direct proportion to the level of uncertainty they can comfortably live with. Rampant uncertainty is undoubtedly contributing to the crisis they are experiencing.
Listening to the news or social media is enough to depress anyone. We hear that many companies will not survive the lockdowns and all it’s doing is kicking the can down the road. Never mind that some industries have done amazingly well, this one-sided message of doom is having a major effect on people who may already be worrying about the likelihood of their jobs being preserved, especially when they don’t hear anything to the contrary from yourselves.
Employees go to work with a spring in their step when they enjoy social interaction with colleagues and receive feedback on how well they’re doing. They get a sense of achievement by being given a task or a goal, and achieving it. Whether people are working from home or on furlough, they’re currently missing social interaction with colleagues and also management thanks and praise for a job well done. Without clear guidance on how to achieve, some employees are floundering.
Employees are anxious to prove that they’re worth keeping on. For those on furlough this relies purely on trust, but for those who go in to the office, it’s leading some to go beyond their remit in order to demonstrate worth. The trouble is that many managers haven’t provided a new remit for these times and are leaving people to do their bit without guidance. When they’re not as busy as they could be, this is causing staff to have ideas and implement ideas that subsequently meet with management resistance. Also, some on furlough are anxious to see parts of their job being delegated to other people and fear they might not be reinstated to them once they return.
People have enough to worry about without worrying about things that shouldn’t concern them. For example, whether the organisation will survive financially or that the organisation is
doing what it’s supposed to do. These are speculative worries based on a lack of clear direction. The effect, though, is to feed the anxiety and the behaviours mentioned above.
Employers can turnaround this Sword of Damocles hanging over staff with a bit of action in three areas:
It’s useful to remember that many staff are existing in a vacuum and making sense of the world as they see it. It will help enormously if you can find a way to communicate to all staff that the company is on-track to come through the crisis, and give them a message of hope for better times to come.
This is about reaffirming that employees are still contributing to the wellbeing of the organisation, whether they’re attending work or on furlough. Thanking them for their loyalty and praising their patience or actions [as appropriate] will increase their sense of self-worth, and willingness to comply with any changes you are implementing.
This is to do with showing that management is keeping a watchful eye over the business and demonstrating how you intend to come through the challenge and make the business stronger. Ideally, this should be a high-level plan delivered by a suitably senior person and it should cascade leadership.
The increase in confidence and peace of mind these steps will generate will ensure staff are on-side and ready for action when the new normal arrives. Demonstrating a well thought out route for the company will allow staff to relax on the things they can’t do, and look forward to joining the push for a brighter future.
Please contact me if you have any questions and let me know how I can be of further assistance to you.