This is the 4th in a series of 6 articles on supporting employees during this unusual and difficult time in businesses and in our lives. With the expansion of lockdown and restricted movements, many employees will be realising that this will go on for a while and that the last 4 weeks may become the norm. While most employees will naturally accept the present state of affairs, for many it will be a difficult mindset to adjust to. Some will be feeling anxious, frustrated and worried about the uncertainty the future holds.
It is important therefore to recognise that all Humans react in unique personal ways. We all struggle with and accept big changes in our own time and in our own ways, as we all move along the change curve at different rates and stages.
Many employees over the last few weeks will have enjoyed aspects of working from home, such as getting up later, not having to battle with public transport, more time with family and even getting in a bit of sunbathing. Others will have struggled with the sense of confinement, missing the social aspect of being with colleagues, not able to enjoy their usual coffee routine, their regular exercise groups and lunch catchups. Additional challenges are also appearing for some employees, like having to become a teacher to their children, or single parents isolating alone without their usual support network.
So where are we finding ourselves and what can psychologically help?
For me personally, at the weekend I had a zoom call with a group of friends I met while living abroad. We all zoomed in from different corners of the world – Ireland, New Zealand, Australia and Canada. It was wonderful to see them all again but what was really fascinating, was how we were all adapting to the same experience. We were all isolating in our houses, with our families, unable to wander far, working from home as best we can, using similar technology, struggling with similar issues and even talking about the same shows we are watching on TV – sharing further viewing recommendations.
These zoom calls have really deepened my appreciation of this being a truly global and specifically Human event and it is bringing our Humanness to the fore in some very lovely ways. In psychology there is a practice called ‘reframing’ which is a mental skill that is applied often in sports psychology but is also a good strategy to practice in everyday life, especially given the present situation.
Reframing is looking at and thinking about a situation by applying a different ‘psychological’ lens. Literally framing it up differently, putting on a different set of metaphorical spectacles and seeing some of the not so obvious aspects of a situation as positive and beneficial.
To do this, ask yourself:
- What aspect of this present situation is an improvement?
- What do I actually like about some of my routine that has changed?
- What might I like to continue doing more of?
- How am I learning about myself and my abilities in adapting to this situation?
Some quick reflections might be:
- Liking more time with family, which is helping with relationships
- The lack of commuting is a welcomed relief for me and for the planet
- I am getting to know my neighbours more and creating a better connection with my community
- I am thinking more about how others are getting on and reaching out more often to intentionally connect
- I am reconnecting with some old friends and some old pastimes that I love but didn’t have time for
While employees are struggling with uncertainty and the need to adapt each week to new and unfolding information, it is important for managers and leaders to help foster some of the positives that each employee is experiencing amidst the many challenges.
To be Human is to be relational and some of our present experience is opening the door to deepening relationships in a very human way – connecting and sharing genuine and real daily experiences. Employers can take this opportunity to share stories, allowing some vulnerability and foster a culture of checking in on each other and of course sharing the positives inherent in reframing aspects of our shared situation.