Woman sitting down with two other people looking concerned
Companies need to be cognizant of the complex emotional factors impacting =the new normal

Welcome to the new working world.

Your team is split – some people are coming into the office, some are staying virtual, and even more are taking a hybrid approach. 

You have new silos in the organization – not around job functions, but around political beliefs. 

Employees are demanding to have a better work-life balance – they don’t want to work 50+ hours and miss their kid’s soccer game or their workout routine. They are burnt out from the pandemic. Many realize that they like some of the benefits of working from home, yet they miss the camaraderie and connections they get by being in person. Expectations have shifted and they expect you to be able to provide them with the best of both worlds or they probably won’t stick around. 

Employees won’t settle for the status quo.

Let’s look at the statistics:

  1. Over 65% of all employees who worked remotely during the pandemic want and expect to work virtually half the time or more, while over 20% want to work remotely full-time.
  2. Over 40% would quit their current company if their employer didn’t provide them with the option of remote work for two to three days per week.
  3. Over 25% plan to leave their job after the pandemic, notably those who rank their company cultures as “C” or lower.

Employees are seeking a safe place to work that has a culture of flexibility, fun, and excitement. They want flexible working models but they are concerned that if they don’t show up in the office, they will miss out on that next promotion or good job assignment. So, make sure that doesn’t happen. 

If you can’t provide these things for them – your employees are quitting. In droves. This is the time of the Great Resignation after all. They know they can get a job tomorrow with more money, more perks, and more flexibility. 

And your managers …well they are burned out too. 

They are the ones that have to deal with the new work structures and figure out who is in the office, who isn’t, and how to get them to talk. They are the ones who are on the frontline of being both a boss, a confidant, a psychologist, and a motivator. Managers are the ones who are bearing the brunt of the conflicts that happen between people. 

Oh, did we mention that most of the managers are new to their position and trying to figure out their role at the same time as all of this? It’s a very tricky time for them too and they are feeling the strain.

And then there are your customers. 

It’s no longer just about your product or service.

Customers want to know that your policies fit with the times and that your company is reflecting their values and beliefs. Is your organization embracing diversity? Do you ensure that your employees are paid a living wage? Are you taking action to combat global warming? And if you do these things – are you doing enough of them?

To add to complexity – doing these things will please some of your customers, but you might be pushing other clients away. You will be loved or hated on social media – probably both.

So, this is the new normal. A world that feels familiar, but so very different at the same time.

Is this new reality here to stay? 

Research on human behavior would indicate that some of these new demands placed on companies will be here for a while. They have become ingrained in the expectation and social norms that drive such behavior. 

Those old routines have been usurped. Behavioral science has a term for this phenomenon – it is Habit Discontinuity. 

This is the idea that once a well-established habit has been broken (e.g., going into the office), new habits will take their place.  For example, in 2014, the London Tube (i.e., subway) workers went on strike.  They shut the Tube down for just two days, but during those two days, people had to find alternative ways to work. When service came back, researchers found that while the majority of people resumed their old Tube habits, 5% of people had adopted new ways of commuting – that were permanent changes to their behavior. 

The pandemic has lasted a bit longer than two days so if that small period of time can impact 5% of commuter’s behaviors – just imagine the behavior change that this larger upset is going to bring about. 

This isn’t going away quickly. In fact, it will probably get worse before it gets better. 

The new normal for companies is shifting and changing weekly if not daily. But, it also provides opportunities for companies that understand it to move ahead of the competition. This may seem like a lot, and it is, but there are some things you can do to make it more navigable.

Training your managers in each of the following areas will help your company be more successful.

Mitigating stress

Employees who are feeling stressed, under pressure, sad, or depressed have lower levels of motivation, decreased performance levels, increased interpersonal conflict, greater levels of disruptions, and decreased engagement at work. Effectively training managers in how to recognize the signs of stress, probe appropriately, and help mitigate that stress can help alleviate these issues.

Creating a culture of psychological safety

 It may seem simple but is often overlooked – major studies have shown that one of the largest distinguishing factors for creating successful teams is treating each other with respect. Successful teams create what we call a culture of “psychological safety.” A culture where team members “feel safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of each other.” Training managers in how to curate this environment on their team is critical in today’s world.  

Communication skills

Even in the best of times, communication can be misunderstood or misconstrued. When your employees are facing dire times, effective communication is even more important. This means that when you are communicating with people who are in this situation, it is important to understand the emotional impact of your words and demeanor. Train your leaders to understand what makes good communication and why some fall short by leveraging the power of words choice, empathy, “you” vs. “I” statements, and more  

Other Important Considerations

  • Over 60% of all employees report poor virtual communication and collaboration as their biggest challenge with virtual work – particularly if some people are in the office and others are not. Consider investing in group training on virtual collaboration skills.
  • On average, employees are considerably more productive when working from home but roughly 40% of all employees, millennials in particular, feel concern over career progress and promotion if they are not in the office, being seen. Consider updating your performance management systems and focusing them on tasks rather than time. Also, hold regular team networking programs that include everyone to maintain team connections and face time.
  • 75% of employees say they are experiencing “Zoom fatigue”
  • and want fewer meetings – consider creating a day a week with no meetings to help avoid stress and burnout
  • Direct managers are your direct link between the company and your teams – they hold the power to make these visions a reality. Invest in Your Managers Skillsets by Ordering Leading Human™. The Leading Human™ playbook and companion workbook trains your managers in each of those key areas, along with many more. It gives them specific tools to implement and take action on what they learn and create a roadmap for success in the new working world.

To learn more about why these processes are so critical to today’s working world grab our free whitepaper here.

Stay ahead of the competition and solidify your company’s future in the new world by preordering Leading Human™ here at $20 off.*