As we all continue to deal with the ever-evolving COVID-19 situation, no matter where you are, whether in lockdown Melbourne, Victoria or beyond, whatever sector you work in, or your role, we wanted to reach out and send you warm, supportive best wishes from everyone at Worklogic.
We sincerely hope that you are okay – and that if you are not okay, you reach out for support. We are always available for a chat and ready to help. The current age of isolation (in Melbourne particularly) makes it even more important to communicate, to support one other more than ever in order to get to the other side of this ghastly pandemic.
Workplace trends during COVID-19
Since the onset of COVID-19 earlier this year, there has understandably been a change in priorities for many of our clients. At the same time, whilst we have seen some things change, some things stay the same. We thought it might be useful to share trends we are broadly seeing across our workplace clients at the moment, and provide some suggestions for you to consider as part of your current and post-pandemic planning.
1. Workplace misconduct continues
Stressful times bring our the best and worst in human behaviour – and while you might expect to see a dramatic decline in allegations of misconduct in the workplace when many are working remotely, this has not been our experience to date.
Those previously ignored hair-line fractures, whether in the workplace culture generally or certain interpersonal interactions, suddenly crack. They erupt into full-blown problems which cannot wait for a post-pandemic fix. The dysfunctional undercurrents between two staff, who were previously able to navigate this by communicating via a third party in the physical workplace (until now!), now bubbles to the surface. A supervisor, who was blissfully unaware of the impact of their abrupt or disrespectful behaviour on others? Now, in the age of lockdown, a whole range of factors culminate in staff members finally saying enough: “we can’t do lockdown and this too“.
Similarly, issues around conflicts of interest, sexual harassment, dscrimination and fraud are also (still) prevalent – and allegations of misconduct still need to be dealt with immediately.
- If you are seeing a rise in tension betweern staff, a facilitated discussion, mediation and/or coaching can be very helpful tools to de-escalate. If conducting these face to face is not possible, we have found that running them online via Zoom is as effective in achieving the desired outcome.
- Make sure your staff know how to raise issues of concern formally and to discuss what’s going on informally while everyone is working remotely and it is no longer possible to ‘pop in’ to seek advice from a manager or HR.
- Continue to investigate all allegations of misconduct immediately, bringing in independent, external workplace investigators when necessary to support the process. We are conducting investigations online at the moment, and our process has proven safe, fair and effective.
- Take steps to set and reinforce clear expectations about appropriate behaviour at work and send a strong message that your workplace values are the priority.
2. Employee mental health is suffering
Many people are finding the pandemic challenging from a mental health perspective. Dealing with change, isolation, constant uncertainty and pressure is hard and everyone copes differently. Needless to say, the wearing of multiple hats, during the age of COVID, is full-on. People are currently juggling home-schooling, working from home, working on the front-line, managing remotely, caring for relatives and children, whilst trying to get the job done. Do you know how well your staff are coping?
- Aside from existing wellbeing strategies, like putting in place (or ramping up) an Employee Assistance Program, how often and how widely are you engaging with employees across the business, to listen and encourage engagement? In what forums do you ask “How is lockdown for you?”, “How are you coping with the pandemic?“, and “What could we do to support you?“. Are you reaching all staff, including those on leave, stood down, working remotely and working out in the field? It’s so important to capture that intel before the daily distractions take over and ideas for improvement are lost.
- If you are unsure or concerned about what is going on across your organisation, consider conducting a workplace review to uncover issues and to inform your current actions and post-pandemic recorvery strategy. These too can easily be conduct online rather than face to face. A review can help identify strategies that you can weave into the “new normal”, and to also identify what you can do to resolve serious concerns where your workplace values are under threat.
- Conduct training for your people. Whilst most workplaces have been less focussed on running training for their staff, other clients have made a priority of running training for staff who are isolated from each other. The opportunity for staff to get together, collaborate on skills development and team building at this time, and feel valued as well, have all helped stregthen those teams in difficult times. Training (both face to face and online) can provide a true moment where staff can come together to enjoy intellectual challenges and the curiosity of honing skills on conflict resolution, communication and how to give back to and support their colleagues. This pandemic is colossally isolating and interrupting workplace dynamics, so the need for strengthening, affirming and rebuilding of staff is greater than ever.
- Finally, never underestimate the power of authentic praise and a sincere thank you. Go out of your way to praise for doing a good job in challenging circumstances. Keep on sincerely thanking everyone for their work, commitment and support of one another during the current situation. Think about strategies to help recognise and thank staff for their efforts. Discuss with your staff, what works by way of an opportunity to appreciate their work.Celebrate achievements meaningfully and inclusively, to show that you really do want to say thank-you.
Hopefully, implementing these strategies will help your staff and organisation emerge from the pandemic stronger and more resilient. From all of us at Worklogic, take care at this time, stay well and here’s looking forward to post-pandemic possibilities.
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