I have recently been feeling fatigued by everything. Too much information, too much change, too much chaos. Too much, too much, too much. At the same time, things have slowed down a lot. Between feeling more secure in the information we have and feeling more confident in the changes we have made and what is needed to function in this new life, it does not feel quite as scary as it did 6 weeks ago. But if that’s the case, why am I only now feeling fatigued?
This weekend, I came across this great explanation from a social psychologist, Amy Cuddy, on LinkedIn. She outlined that crises have 3 Psychological Phases:
Emergency – the goals are clear and there is an urgency that creates energy, focus and productivity
Regression – coming to terms with how unclear everything is, people can start to feel tired, irritable, withdrawn and lost without a sense of purpose
Recovery – moving beyond, not just getting by, becomes the focus and we are able to set new goals and get settled into the reality of the situation
She said all these reactions are normal and predictable and right now, most of us are in Regression. That is where I am and I found that to be very comforting, like I am not alone. The dust is settling, and we have the time to reflect on what we know, and all that we don’t. For me, a planner by nature, it is very uncomfortable. This information made me feel more confident about starting to move into Recovery, planning for what is to come next and getting used to this reality.
For you as business owners, there is the added pressure of managing expectations of others. Your employees have returned to work or will be shortly. They will also be in one of the above 3 phases and may require support, perhaps way more than usual. As you work through the psychological phases of this crisis with your team, you may find new challenges creeping up. I wanted to share some of the insights I have been sharing with the practice owners about employee relations during this time:
Your employees will remember how you treat them. There are going to be many available employees hitting the job market now exclusively because of how they were treated by their employer. Practices that kept in touch, called their employees personally and checked in with them frequently after their return to work are seeing better transitions than practices who did not. If your staff is already back to work and you haven’t done this, get started now. Take the time to chat with each of your employees; don’t leave it to someone else…or no one at all.
The perception of safety is as important, if not more important, than actual safety. There are a lot of safety procedures being put into place right now. You may think that wearing gloves all day is worthless and your receptionist should not do it. However, you will provide them with psychological safety (not actual safety) by allowing them to wear them. If that makes them feel comfortable and safe, try to embrace those needs. Hear your employee’s requests for safety procedures to help them feel secure at work.
We all deal with fear and uncertainty differently. As your employees are coming back to work, adjusting to their new expectations, and managing their own lives outside of work, you may notice that their behavior is different. Fear is powerful and we have all developed different coping mechanisms for it. Some are healthy and some are not. Communication is key at all times, but especially during this time.
You don’t have to change your business decisions, but you have to acknowledge how they affect your team. There are going to be decisions you need to make for your business that your staff may not understand or like – like adding Saturday hours. Your staff’s discomfort in these decisions will come. When these types of decisions need to be made, involve your team in the conversation and be willing to hear out their concerns.
Amy Alvarez is a Certified Professional of the Society of Human Resource Management and has a Master’s in Human Resource Management. Amy has experience in Human Resources in healthcare and retail, Management in big box and specialty retail stores and Physician Recruitment. Through these roles and training, Amy is well-versed in recruitment and hiring strategies for “hard to fill” roles, dealing with low productivity, helping encourage employee engagement, on-boarding, training, day-to-day management in a retail setting, employee relations, and so much more. For questions or concerns about this article, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.