Our illustrious prime minister has given a green light to the business world, that as long as things can be done safely, we should now look at returning to the workplace, in order to kickstart our economy, providing you can not work from home. (you all knew that anyway!) Fantastic news.
In light of this, I have recently been approached by a business owner to support his workforce, small stepping their transition from home, back into the workplace now that lockdown has ever so slightly being lifted.
Dave is the owner of a small business and from my meetings with him, a great leader
He values all aspects of his staff and their wellbeing and is doing all of the right things regarding risk assessments, fully considering the health and safety aspects of business return… but unlike some others I speak to, Dave is also fully considering the mental and emotional aspect that this pandemic is having on certain members of staff.
He is a wise man and is also under no illusion that this period of furlough may have become the norm to some also, meaning that they just don’t want to return at all. (drinking beer at 11, whilst working from home is heaven to some.) these people will need to be handled a different way.
The fact is, like everybody who owns a business, quite simply, he needs his business to get back, up and running as quickly as possible and with the lockdown restrictions being relaxed, he wants this to be slow, safe but as seamless as possible.
Like most business owners (I hope,) Dave has been in constant contact with his staff through this crisis and has concluded, that some staff are desperate to return but are a little reluctant through feeling fearful, anxious and paranoid about leaving the comfort blanket of home.Sounding familiar?
Mindsets have inevitably shifted and mental health stretched
Dave has bought me on board to start the process of communicating with each individual member of staff who maybe reluctant. I want to understand how they are personally processing this period, which will enable me the best way to support each person, a blanket approach of “ah get on with it will you” cannot be used.
Staff have to be pulled back into the workplace, not pushed, whilst overcoming the mental obstacles that are in their way.
Dave and I are not naïve, some staff will need their hand held back through the door (metaphorically,) but some will need a tactical boot up the ass (metaphorically also!!)… communication is king and using the correct language whilst coaching them back in, supporting their mental health needs once they are, is the way to do it. If the staff are not handled correctly while they transition back, then it could be counter productive, Dave doesn’t want to take that risk and could find himself with staff who will feel undervalued, possibly under performing right from the get go, more concerned about their safety then working, being in an environment where they are not thinking clearly and overwhelmed just worrying all of the time. Their thoughts and feelings have to be considered to enable full performance but in turn they have to understand that Dave has a business to run, its a 2 way street.
We are cautiously getting the economy moving again, but it must not be at the cost of mentally straining the workforce. The right communication and language is key before and during the transition back.
As a business owner myself and the industries I support through coaching, I know money is important, but mental and physical health has to be front of mind.
Thanks for reading and take care.
(note: all names have been changed to protect the public although my name really is John)
For more information on supporting your business with mindset and development coaching or Mental health first aid courses please contact me.