First, a company must remember it is all about safety: physical, emotional, and psychological. Safety is the number one priority and actions matter to ensure every form of safety. A company should consider beefing up culture practices and positivity and providing additional mental health and coaching resources for their team to access. The “mental health hangover” has been widely discussed and qualified resources to assist in this regard are in increasingly short supply.
Second, a company must ensure that its best practices and learnings from operating remotely and from a distance are carried forward when coming back together as an organization. It is vital to keep many of the practices that have defined time away from each other and have become part of the new normal. Many employees have thrived remotely and the benefits they have enjoyed from reduced commutes; less cost and time and more flexibility and ease in supporting their families are to be taken into consideration.
Third, a company must consider a culture of “Yes, And” and try to find a balance between innovating too quickly versus stifling ideation – which will be core to change management across all levels of an organization. It is important to encourage new ideas and create a safe place for team members to safely experiment in small and lean formats, (lean = low cost and low time and rapid iteration) and where failure is welcomed as learning. The leader’s role is to balance this with an honest assessment that the best strategy might also be to stay core to what one is best at and stack up early wins as they re-enter and build momentum.
Fourth, it is essential for leaders to honestly assess and communicate the status of their company and its future prospects and to be able to admit that they might not know all the answers. Whilst employees want to know what’s happening, it is incumbent upon their leaders to provide honest answers as creating false narratives or avoiding the conversation is much more damaging to corporate culture and morale. Consider leading with questions and be prepared to say that you do not have the answer yet, but when you do, you will share it.
Fifth, perfectionism is not the immediate goal because good enough might be okay, especially as for the typical employee, most things will feel new. Consider limiting any forms of judgement of employee behavior, and instead educate and move on when met by employees that are frozen or afraid. Remember that they are experiencing all types of re-emergence realities through the lives and eyes of their family members, and as such compassion and empathy will be key attributes for leaders to focus on.
Sixth, truthful information matters, because it is difficult to discern what is real and not. Consider how to encourage employees to make analytical and reflective decisions instead of drawing conclusions from emotional and personal experience. Remember that in the absence of you providing them with consistently clear and informative information, they will likely turn elsewhere for it.
Seventh, encourage mindfulness, because there is clear research that supports the fact that mindfulness does not only feel good, but is also good for business and productivity. Consider encouraging meditation as a way to start the day at work. Consider gratitude practice with small teams leading sessions and rotating being indoors and outdoors, and rotating group leaders. There are many guided sessions available on apps, YouTube and elsewhere that are highly regarded and very well run.
Eighth, prepare for future disruption, because it is possible, we are in an open/close economic and pandemic state of uncertainty for some time. Consider how to establish the new normal of constant and somewhat surprising change. Try to avoid language suggesting anything is “over” and rather praise the team for building resilience and commend everyone for their developing skill sets to endure any changes that are still to come.
Ninth, rid your company of looking back, because the past will not look like the future and the future will not look like the past. Consider how you can incorporate positivity into the organization to keep the workforce focused on the future state. There are an abundance of positivity exercises which we run at the Bermuda Clarity Institute, so feel free to reach out to us for guidance or assistance.
Finally, tenth, culture is everything, because this is about the people and their safety, well-being and performance. Remember, at the end of the day, all your assets literally walk out the door. Solve for the humans and their human conditions, and they will solve for the rest. Consider doubling down on your connection with the people, because this is not a communication first focus (which can often feel like it’s coming from an ivory tower and thus possibly backfire) – but rather it is a culture first approach – which is supported by frequent, honest and positive communication.
To download the full guide The Re-Entry: The Big Concepts, visit Bermuda Clarity Institute’s website at www.clarity.bm and learn more about our research in navigating uncertainty, driving positivity and achieving clarity in the workplace.