A positive path from the holidays

We scribe on all things HR to add value to your organisation

by | Jan 4, 2021

Forever etched on the boardroom walls of every organisation, will be 2020. It’s been a year of terrifying rollercoaster twists and turns, as we’ve navigated the pandemic, pivoted commercial strategies and changed the shape of the way we work and live.

Organisations have reacted in differing ways throughout the pandemic – the immediacy and panic reflecting in the strategies and behaviours of some, the care and foresight shining through in others. Organisations and their leadership teams have found themselves on the back foot of changing commercial environments, and it’s fair to say that predicting the unpredictable has been one of the biggest challenges yet. Early indicators show us that some industries have fared better than others, with 2021 projections differing wildly from industry to industry. Employees, through no fault of their own, have found themselves almost like pawns on a chessboard – being rapidly moved around, to meet the changing needs of the pandemic. Life as we knew it has changed in just about every way possible, at home and in the workplace. Many employees have gone from being solely office-based, with the odd work from home day to working predominantly from home now. Parents and caregivers were challenged with homeschooling, sharing their office with not just their partners but their children as they learned how to become educators at the same time as employees. Socially, employees have been not just distanced from one another, but in many instances, from those they love too and have been feeling the strain of significantly reduced social contact. Holidays have had to be cancelled, international travel postponed, and a heightened level of anxiety has cropped up around hygiene, testing and staying well. Statistics show us that up to 42% of employees* have reported a decline in mental health since the start of the pandemic, which has led to feeling overwhelmed – by not just the social changes but by anxiety around the economics (personal and corporate) of a pandemic and the uncertainty this brings into the workplace. One or two of these factors alone are enough to induce anxiety and stress in even the most loyal and stoic of employees, but grouped together, have produced a culture of worry, a fear of the unknown around job security, strategic direction and their own individual futures.

How can organisations attempt to ease this heightened stress load of employees? People are looking for assurances, some certainty in what has become an extremely uncertain world. Whilst promises may not be realistic given the volatile nature of the virus, honest and realistic communication can help to ease the mental load and give some power back to your people.  In providing your employees with the most up to date information, you’re inadvertently reducing any concerns about inauthentic communication or critical business matters being hidden, and you open the door to a much more robust conversation. 2020 has been a tough year and the desire from many teams was to take a break over the festive season and to relax and recharge with their families. Proactive, open communication will help to foster a positive environment, increasing productivity in these final few days before everything resumes and building a warm, engaged culture, which employees will strive to remain in as we progress into 2021.

About the author

As President and South Australian State Councillor of the Australian HR Institute (AHRI), Susan is a valued advisor and thought leader to her clients and the HR community. Maintaining an extensive understanding of employment law and business acumen through her work and connectivity to the AHRI and the business community, Susan is a master at finding innovative people orientated solutions, carefully balanced with the commercial reality.

 

Would you like to learn more about our HR strategies and coaching?

We bring laser sharp vision and expertise into your organisation to mitigate your risks and address any underlying challenges

New CEO? Compliance issues can cut off your head

As a new CEO, understanding whether or not the business is compliant is one of your most pressing requirements.   When it comes to compliance, ignorance is not bliss. As a new CEO,...

As the new CEO, you know change is needed. But where?

When you’re a new CEO, you might want to shake things up. It might not be necessary.   For new CEOs, knowing where to begin shaping their company isn’t always easy. When you’re brought into the...

Youth Jobs PaTH internship a perfect match for Catherine and Adelaide small business

Catherine and Susan might never have met, if not for an Australian Government Employer Liaison Officer suggesting a Youth Jobs PaTH internship. It turned out to be a perfect match for the job hunter and local Adelaide business director.

6 Things Every HR Leader Should Be Doing

HR is there for the benefit of employees, managers, and the business, for practical tasks and strategic advice or simply support and guidance, no matter what your role in the business is.

Work and pandemics: lessons from the past

The history of pandemics offers lessons for how workplaces can respond to what’s happening during COVID-19.

What is (and what isn’t) an unfair dismissal?

People make unfair dismissal applications to the Fair Work Commission following a range of scenarios – they may disagree with why they were let go from their job, feel it was unlawful, or because...

How leaders should talk about job insecurity during COVID-19

A guide to navigating the language around business and job insecurity during the COVID-19 crisis.A friend of mine told me his boss has been existentially shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic. One day...

A guide to Australian workplace changes in 2020

They say hindsight is 20/20 vision, but let’s see if we can forecast 2020. Experts predict what will impact our workplaces this year. Trying to predict the future is often a futile exercise, but if...

The critical bond: HR and the CEO

When a CEO and CHRO work together effectively, the whole business feels the impact. But the same can be said for those who don’t work together well.Imagine a scenario where an organisation’s chief...