Many people have asked this question over the years – Marvin Gaye and The 4 Non Blondes, to name but a couple – and, whatever your music preferences, there’s no denying that everything is a bit strange at the moment.
The initial shock of lockdown HAS receded. We’re not seeing social media posts about wildlife wandering into city centres, schools have reopened, and the roads are fairly busy again. At the same time, we’re wearing masks, social distancing and maintaining our bubbles.
So, what does this underlying uncertainty mean for small businesses and their teams?
Well, over the last few weeks, I’ve found that my clients are looking for reassurance as their team members throw a whole range of weird and wonderful issues at them. Regardless of business performance or how they’ve communicated and supported people during lockdown, employee engagement has taken a massive hit. Mental health issues have increased, absence levels are up and turnover is high – yep, even in the current employment market!
As a business owner facing these issues, it’s hard not to blame yourself – and it’s certainly worth taking the time to speak to your team and see what you can do to help them through this. However, before you head over to SurveyMonkey and start building a wellbeing questionnaire, I’d like you to…
Cut yourself some slack
Yep, that’s right. That’s the message I’ve been giving my clients when they’ve called, desperate to know that they’re not the only company dealing with people problems at the moment. It’s NOT you. There’s something much bigger going on.
Do you remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? The bottom of the pyramid starts with basic stuff like food and shelter; the next tier is about personal and financial security, then we get to the less tangible stuff like belonging and self-actualisation. To move up the pyramid, the base has to be secure.
For most of us right now, the base isn’t secure. Even if we’re feeling a bit less uncertain than in March, the physical threat of Coronavirus is still very much present. The news is full of stories about redundancies, business closure and a global recession – so even if your company is doing well, your team will likely have a little voice in their head saying “what if, what if, what if.” While their personal and financial security is wobbly, they just can’t engage with work in the same way as they would before – hence the weird and wonderful issues and behaviours you’re seeing.
If you know me, you know I’m all about practical solutions – so what can you do? Keep doing all the great things you’re doing to drive engagement and support your team. Keep communicating. And in all of that, don’t forget your own wellbeing.
Uncertainty. That’s what’s going on.