We are all in the same storm, but not in the same boat

HOW ARE YOU TAKING CARE OF YOUR PEOPLE?

What do your people need both now and as we transition out of lockdown? We still have many weeks ahead of us before offices gradually start to re-open in September.  How are your working parents feeling? Researchers at the University of Sussex found 72% of mothers described themselves as the “default” parent for all or most of the time during lockdown, while 67% of women with work commitments also described themselves as such. In addition, 70% of women reported being completely or mostly responsible for home schooling.  That is not to say men haven’t also been taking responsibility for childcare and home schooling – many parents have found ways to manage work and family by changing working hours and operating different shifts but this has been dependent on the flexibility and understanding offered by their employer.

With school terms ending and the long summer holidays looming, what additional support do your working parents need?  As you start to bring your employees back into the physical workplace again, what steps can you take to understand their different levels of comfort?    Some employees won’t want to share why they feel a certain way about Covid, yet it is crucial that we respect and validate their perspectives. Many organisations are experiencing change as staff return from furlough or undergo redundancies, all of which will impact on the workload and wellbeing of your employees.

Inclusive leadership behaviours are more important than ever – leadership is earned, not mandated.  Earning trust is key as we lead our teams through this crisis.  As leaders, we need to show empathy, offer support and ensure our team members feel connected as we continue to find our way through this uncertainty.  We need to prioritise their health and mental wellbeing and be careful not to assume that our people are ok – we are not all having the same experience:

  • Foster psychological safety by showing appreciation for workers of all types for their efforts and contributions
  • Create conditions for your people to speak up and express professional concerns and personal needs
  • Be open about not having the answers, take the time to get to you know your people personally. Try asking “what is going on for you?”  “What does support from me look like?”

For many people, this transition period may be the most stressful as they gradually adapt their lives and prepare for some kind of return to the physical office, or prepare their children to return to school.  One of the most important elements of leading others through change is providing a clear vision for the future.  The difficulty with Covid-19 is that none of us really know what the future holds, and the impact of this uncertainty creates stress and anxiety for all of us.

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