When the world is still, quiet, even boring, people start to think. When the present is less blurry, the past becomes clearer. There is time for nostalgia, regret, and resolution. It is winter in the winter of the pandemic … or so we hope.
As one of my favorite books reminds me, the busiest times can feel like the “end of living, and the beginning of survival.” Ironically, as the world sheltered in place to survive a once-in-a-century virus, some portions of society started to live. They reevaluated how they lived and worked, realizing that the way things have always been might not always be. Look to the ongoing debates among cities and their educators, and you spot an interesting trend: life is creeping into conversations about survival. Retroactive reviews of schedules, benefits, and more, are happening. Many employees do not envision a return to the way things were, plus mask. It is undeniable that the past year formed an imprint – one that will last well beyond the virus and its variants.
February 6, 2021 marked one year since the first known COVID-19 death in the United States. The year has been described as both fast and slow. Like a vacation with a nice, steady view, time has flown. At the same time, it is hard to imagine getting back to crowded parties and unmasked faces. In that sense, it is as if the year has been an era. If you feel that, your employees do, too.
Thankfully, vaccines are here. Vaccinations are increasing every day. Employers must anticipate the many questions and concerns this return to normal will generate from employees. Yes, employees are grateful to get their lives back; but in what capacity? Surely, you have an employee who does not miss a daily two-hour commute, and came to value the peace of a slower morning at the kitchen table with his spouse. Ignore the Era of Reflection, and you may lose your greatest asset: your people.
Curious as to what your team is reflecting on these days? Consider the following steps before you make any major decisions:
- Utilize anonymous surveys to understand needs and wants
- Engage existing groups of employees (ERGs, interest groups, etc.) to weigh in on priorities
- Form a “Return to Work” committee, made up of a diverse group of employees (i.e., not just upper management)