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26th April 2021

5 Must-Have Support Workforce Initiatives as We Move into Our New “Working Normal” in 2021

As a people development company with its finger on the pulse throughout the pandemic, we’ve successfully pivoted all of our people development offerings online.

As we adjust to our new working normal across the globe, it’s vitally important that we understand our workforce’s valueWhen connection and growth are more important than ever, how can we provide appropriate training and development support to engage our leaders and teams emotionally and physically to thrive?  

 

As a people development company with its finger on the pulse throughout the pandemic, we’ve successfully pivoted all of our people development offerings online. During the process, we’ve learnt a thing or two. 

 

Here are my top 5 people support initiatives for you to consider in 2021 

 

1. Support Your Leaders.

 

During times of change, leaders need equipping to hold their teams. With the unique working conditions the pandemic has demanded, managers need to dial up their emotional intelligence and leadership skills.  

 

Pop in the mix, remote working teams who are glued to video conferencing, with added fears, fatigue and work-life balance pressures. You have the potential for your leaders to feel totally out of their depth and lost.  

 

Providing bitesize, relevant and active learning-based leadership training stimulates support and growthForward-thinking training and development will help your leadership feel valued and empower them to take ownership, develop confidence, sense of purpose, and help your teams be on-brand 

 

2. Provide New People Systems.

 

Agile working with heightened responsibilities at home such as increased childcare, home school learning or caring for sick relatives requires compassionate approach that enables your people to do their best job possible given their circumstances  

 

It seems we’re finally seeing progress with the global pandemic situation and uncertainty in the economy. Despite this, we’re also experiencing a prominent civil rights movement, increased fear, anxiety and mental health problems. There is also huge upheaval and unrest in many developing nations, where many brands have their support sites. 

 

Never before has it been trickier for larger organisations to create and review uniform systems and processes that aren’t cookie cutter. There’s an increasing need for organisations to provide effective counselling systemswell-being, and increased flexi-time to accommodate their employees’ new and ongoing challenges.  

 

We anticipate that many workplaces will continue to take advantage of agile working going forward. As the world opens up, the opportunity and competition to move jobs will too. To ensure employee loyalty and reduce cost, it’s essential, not to mention ethical, that you provide these systems in your people policies if you want to be a workplace of choice. 

 

While it can be a tricky balance between productivity and patience, your people have held your customers through one of the most challenging times since the industrial revolution. Make sure you take care of them, and they’ll take care of your clients. 

 

3. Create Space 

 

As people enmasse are working from their homes, we are experiencing a cry for physical and emotional space. While employers can’t alter their employees living arrangements, leaders can spot when someone may need space to function well.  

 

Creating space may look like offering a rota system in work so that people who want and need to work outside of the home have the opportunity to do so. Facilitating emotional space to process and talk as mentioned in point 2. The phenomena of isolation has hit us like a whirlwind due to recent circumstances. Support circles with colleagues will help.  

 

Fostering a more authentic approach to leadership styles that encourages vulnerability and less armour will help to build trust. Never before have we seen the inside of work colleagues’ bedrooms and homes. It’s confronting.  

 

Time blocking space within the working day will help combat ‘zoom fatigue.’ It’s unacceptable to spend 8 hours straight, day after day, on video calls.  

 

How can you facilitate space within your teams so they can sharpen the sword and be more productive?  

 

4. Structure Downtime….Online!  

 

Innovating structured downtime activities, especially virtual experiences, is a genius move for employee engagement in 2021. Team bonding is SO essential during times where people are craving connection.  

 

Structured downtime online for your teams can look like this: 

  • Drinks (any excuse! Could be coffee, cocktails or lemonade!) 
  • Quiz night. Take it in turns to create quizzes for each other.  
  • Exercise classes. Set time, could be daily or weekly, online together. It’s all about the shared experience.  
  • Birthday celebrations.  
  • Joining a weekly online group together, like a choir or book club. 
  • Gift Drop! Send gifts for everyone to receive on the same day and having a reveal together.  
  • Shared meals. Send meals to your team and hop online together to eat. 
  • Film/Sports event/TV show ‘dates!’ Schedule watching something at the same time and keep your WhatsApp group open for commentary. 

 

Virtual team building is on the rise! We offer virtual choir experiences. I’ve seen virtual problem solving, craft and physical experiences. Exercise, fundraising and community challenges. There is SO much you can invest in for your teams and create if you just think a little left of centre 

 

If you have an agile working team that is geographically disparate, it’s essential to build relationships and engagement. Thinking outside the box is where it’s at. Develop this skill in your leadership and if you find this challenging or don’t have the time to do this, invest in a company or partner that can provide that service for you.  

 

And as the world opens up – cook up socially distanced team activities that foster trust, togetherness and happiness.  

 

Never underestimate the power of a shared experience with a community (or team) of people. Good or bad, those shared experiences pull people together. 

 

You have an opportunity to create nourishing, bonding, creative and productive shared experiences for your people. If you haven’t already addressed this issue, it’s time to take action. Contact us here so we can support you.  

 

5. Communication is Key 

 

When the pandemic hit, my amazing ops manager set up daily meetings to increase a feeling of security, normality and connection – they have worked a treat. In any time of change or challenge, communication is key.  

 

Remembering to communicate positively, even when things are hardis a must. This doesn’t mean glossing over circumstances or how people might be feeling however, far from it. By providing some communication systems that allow people to speak honestly about challenges and celebrations is so valuable in forming trust and the ability to work together to solve problems and work through learnings.  

 

Creating a space for ‘banter’ where people can let off steam works well – for this, we use something more informal like our social events (see above in my structured downtime suggestions) or WhatsApp 

 

For more work-related chats so we can discuss something without being in (yet another) meeting, we make use of Teams channels or apps like Slack – where we can bounce or broadcast micro messages or ask quick questions, which makes us more efficient.  

 

Ensure that when you have your meetings, they are as productive as possible – use an agenda. We have found that shorter meetings work better online for concentration and engagement levels.  

 

A tip – make it mandatory that people are in camera mode in meetings – ownership for how you show up is even more vital when working from home.  

 

Clarity and conciseness of message also helps with agile meetings. Remember that one of the main learnings that the pandemic and associated working seems to have highlighted is the value of time.  

 

Finally, making sure you are ‘creating space’ as outlined above for people to feel comfortable to approach leaders and colleagues about anything challenging them is such a good move. Make this part of your culture. 

 

And……as the workplace enters its new normal. As perhaps we start to see each other in person again and work in the same spaces physically, review your systems but please keep the good stuff…. the communication, the space and the creative initiatives. 

 

Let’s make sure we learn from our adversity, seize the opportunities and run with them!  

 

If you want to speak to Andrea about how Inspire Me could help you in your organisation, you can email her directly here. She’ll be happy to have a free chat with you about how we can support you with your people and inspire the best from them.  

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