Well finally, here we are – at a place we’ve anticipated for well over a year. With COVID-19 vaccinations readily available and on the rise, companies are beginning to gather employees together in-person, and resume brick and mortar activity. But as I often tell my Vida Aventura clients, it certainly won’t be business as usual.
Re-entry into the world after having dealt with isolation, anxiety and uncertainty can be a major shock, both culturally and individually. I’ve been working with clients who are feeling increased anxiety and physical exhaustion as a result of peak “busyness” and filled-to-the-brim schedules – an abrupt change for most of us.
So, how do we deal with the culture shock of re-entry into a face-to-face world? At Vida Aventura, we’re having great success addressing this with leaders, managers and teams through a muti-faceted approach.
A common question I’ve gotten from clients over the past year is, “When will I be able to get my team back to normal?” My answer is always very simple: you won’t. For company leaders, no matter how successful you were with managing your remote workforce, you will face a whole new set of challenges during this transition, including restoring relationships and rebuilding your corporate culture.
That starts with acknowledging the obvious fact: things are and will be different. We’ve all gone through unique experiences over the last 18 months. Some of us have lost loved ones, others have had to completely alter their work schedule and habits to accommodate various familial responsibilities, and many have suffered depression and anxiety.
It’s vital to validate employee experiences and have a plan that supports them as they ease back into an in-office routine. First and foremost, this plan should include ways to reintroduce employees to each other.
Make Team Building a Priority
Training delivery is more important than ever. Specifically, team building and collaboration – they were ranked first in the top five areas of training delivery focus in the most recent The Ken Blanchard Companies® 2021 HR/L&D Trends Survey. The remaining four, in order, were coaching, leading teams, communication and leading virtually.
Think about all the changes your team has gone through. There have probably been significant personnel changes, including those who have shifted positions, left the company, or joined the team for the first time. No matter how effective Zoom meetings and emails can be, it’s difficult to build trust and foster unity without being in the same room, especially with new team dynamics.
Thoughtful, intentional and goal-focused team building events help relationships strengthen and grow while promoting unity and building trust. And believe me, trust is the foundation from which to start. It takes a lot of work to empower team members and ensure they feel valued and appreciated. This leads to satisfied employees. And guess what? Studies show that businesses with engaged and happy team members are 50% more productive and have 26% higher revenues.
As employees adjust to new schedules, environments and teammates, it won’t be easy. That’s why leaders must set the tone by practicing and promoting self-care. Researchers and mental health professionals have determined that stress and anxiety are at all-time highs due to what we’ve dealt with, including the pandemic, levels of unemployment, civil unrest, and worldwide uncertainty.
This is why you and your team need to pay extra attention to mental and physical health. Create a corporate culture that recognizes and deals with burnout as it happens. Encourage each other to get outside, practice mindfulness and connect with each other in meaningful ways.
I previously shared five tips for dealing with stress, anxiety and uncertainty last year, and they still apply today. I hope you’ll check them out.
As you consider your plans for team reintegration, I strongly urge leaders to acknowledge and embrace change, and prioritize team building and self-care within all facets of your business strategies. Don’t know where to start? Please contact the Vida Aventura team for more information – we’re ready to help.