In the world of work, managers and staff are waking up to the reality of a Covid-19 long-haul lockdown - as if the six months already endured aren’t long-haul enough. It’s agonising to look ahead knowing there’s many more weeks and months of bewildering restrictions as we endure multiple measures and mitigations affecting daily life and work.
For the numerous members of staff restricted to working from home, there’s a growing weariness and fatigue. Doing business online, whilst socially and physically isolated from colleagues and managers is an ongoing challenge to staff and their sense of resilience. Staff resilience is already threadbare, and I believe we have now entered a wellbeing crisis.
I hear from many of the people I have coached during lockdown about the stress and distress caused by remote working. Zoom fatigue, isolation, loneliness, frustration, uncertainty and anxiety, all make for a potent cocktail to challenge the resilience and mental health of even the most robust of us. I personally experienced worrying levels of anxiety for a brief period during early lockdown and I now look ahead with fewer signs of hope than I prefer. It’s tough times for us all.
Organisations have a duty of care for staff and must face up to this wellbeing crisis. I’m certain almost every leader and manager have empathy for the effect lockdown and home working has on staff. Empathy is welcome but of itself, insufficient. Leaders and managers also need to demonstrate compassion – empathy in action.
Compassion, in this instance, is not about providing solutions - leaders and managers ought to resist the temptation of providing solutions to problems they don’t yet understand. Instead, for the sake of staff mental health, it’s time to create safe psychological spaces where staff can talk authentically about the lockdown challenges they face and have a genuine experience of being heard.
The majority of our online encounters are transactional affairs focused on doing business, neglecting the needs of the very people doing that business. Staff resilience will evaporate unless we create listening spaces where staff can talk real. Staff need assistance in processing this unique and challenging experience so they can better understand their situation.
Essential Conversations for at-home workers facilitates staff engagement. Engaging staff on their lived experience of lockdown and home-working shows compassion, builds morale and helps identify adjustments needed to reduce stress, encourage effectiveness and build resilience.
As part of our efforts to support leaders and managers who seek to help staff through lockdown, we have developed professionally facilitated Essential Conversations under two themes:
When workforce resilience is tested to the limit, leaders and managers need to really listen to staff talking real.
Support your staff to have the conversations they need to have - contact Kinharvie today to learn about Essential Conversations for at-home workers.
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