Thanks to remote work models and other new pandemic norms, employees are struggling to stay afloat while juggling their personal and professional lives. The extreme challenges all around mean that, while your company may be eager to regain footing as the world slowly reopens, you, unfortunately, can’t expect workers to simply bounce back and carry on as usual. Instead, you must patiently adopt well-planned recovery strategies that care for worker wellbeing and emphasize workplace resilience.
What is Workplace Resilience?
Cultivating workplace resilience means ensuring that your employees are adaptable and can thrive as they face change and adversity.
The pandemic has been going strong for over a year now, and workers are fighting burnout, wrestling with a lack of motivation, and struggling to maintain boundaries as work and home life have pretty much merged into one. Setting up organizational structures that address physical and mental wellness is the key to helping them recover from the last year’s events, power through the remaining stretch of Covid-19, and prepare for times ahead.
Where Should You Start?
So you’re well aware of your employees’ hardships but are at a loss for where to begin making improvements. In February of this year, HR.com published an excellent webinar discussing this. We’ve combined their insights with our perspectives to develop this list of practical strategies:
Kick things off with a focus group
A firm foundation is critical here, so it’s not enough to take a few shots in the dark. Any resiliency initiatives your company chooses will require well-thought-out plans and carefully implemented steps. That doesn’t mean that your leadership has to have all the answers from the onset, but it does mean starting strong.
One of the best ways to gather ideas about your teams’ needs is to form focus groups that create spaces where employees and leaders (representing various organizational levels) can safely raise issues and offer suggestions. Rather than wasting time on guesswork, go straight to the source.
Focus on mental health and psychological safety
Over the past several months, mental health has sustained a tremendous beating on a global scale. While mental illness can be a difficult topic, your organization cannot create a truly balanced and sustainable work environment without facing it head-on. Some simple solutions can include:
- Training managers and team leaders to ask the right questions about mental health, listen carefully, and provide proper responses
- Maintaining a master list of mental health resources to share with those who are or might be struggling
- Establishing support groups to help people cope with particular challenges (e.g. working parents with small children)
- Teaching mindfulness tactics that promote overall wellbeing
The ultimate goal is to provide employees with the space they need to talk about and healthfully process mental and emotional struggles without fear of judgement. We dive more into this topic in one of our previous posts and Episode 12 of the Thriver Podcast.
Emphasize healthy habits at work (now more than ever)
It’s not enough just to have health-boosting policies in place. It’s critical to make it as easy as possible for workers to practice them in (and out of) the office and continuously encourage them to do so. Try out some of the following ideas:
- Switch up meeting locations by hosting them outside from time to time
- Discourage overwork by redistributing task loads when necessary
- Teach workers about nutrition and mindful eating
- Equip people with effective stress management techniques
- Redesign workspaces with more ergonomic features (e.g. standing desks, spaces for stretching, etc.)
Eating healthy, exercising, and so on are such basic things, yet we often neglect them. Self-care is crucial now more than ever, so be sure to involve these and other practices in your workplace resilience initiatives.
Avoid unnecessary rigidity
Flexibility is critical for cultivating workplace resilience. As we all move forward, you might feel tempted to cling to old company standards and procedures because they were effective during pre-pandemic days. However, be careful not to do so simply because “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” Be willing to rethink and rework job locations, workloads and responsibilities, and even workspace layouts. Be open to listen to worker needs and strike a compromise with company needs.
It’s vital to lay aside personal preferences here and focuses on what’s best for your organization and teams on a global level.
You Don’t Have to Have All the Answers. You Just Have to Care About People.
The pandemic has forced a staggering number of people to honestly review their job satisfaction, and in many cases, move on to better opportunities. Companies that want to retain and empower their workforce need to take a (possibly painful) step back and ask themselves what they’re doing to provide staff members with work-life balance and support them in other ways. As mentioned earlier, this doesn’t require knowing everything and having perfect solutions from the beginning. Empathy and honest concern for people will take you a long way.
There’s still lots to overcome, even as the pandemic slowly lets up in many parts of the world. Do you have a strategy to face it yet? If not, we’ve got you. Check out our resilience workshop to learn how to boost morale and performance in the coming months.