Exhaustion, stress, fatigue, and burnout are just some of the terms used to describe the feelings in the current Covid scenario. What felt like a slight reprieve was also crushed by the virus’s re-emergence in so many countries. People who were geared up to conquer the Work-from-Home scenario are now feeling the brunt of sitting in one place for too long, while some are tired of being cooped up in the house all day long. The only breaks are the washroom, a quick lunch, or a grocery run to the nearby store.
Most employees working from home face irritation, restlessness, and a feeling of being in a ‘mental fog.’ In 2020, business suffered, cash flows stopped, and people were forced to work in alternate ways. This air of dejection and exhaustion is uniform across all the levels in companies, and most people are finding it extremely difficult to stay positive and upbeat.
During this time, most managers and leaders were left at their wit’s end. With 2020 behind us and the vaccine on the horizon for 2021, most employees have lost morale and are suffering.
What Should We Do About It?
Till the pandemic is put to rest and the whole world is vaccinated, everyone will have to take precautionary measures and maintain social distance. However, as leaders, it is essential to cultivate psychological stamina and resilience in employees.
The Coronavirus crises brought the whole world to a standstill, and fundamental human nature took over – flight or fight response, uncertainty, emotional stamina, and resilience. Prolonged isolation had people becoming bored, anxious, and unnerved. They needed to endure, persevere, and not lose hope at the re-emergence of the virus.
Globally, innovation, entrepreneurship, team spirit, and positivity were at an all-time low. Mostly all employees felt bereft of creativity and could not come up with solutions and ideas to improve their work and strategize for a better tomorrow.
As leaders who need to manage teams and keep morale high, it is essential to remember that this situation is only temporary. It is not only your team members and employees who are facing this issue, but also you and your entire family. It is natural and human to feel disturbed and unnerved. It is also possible to bring yourself and your team members out of it.
There are three core aspects that you need to remember. We will look at each of these in detail:
- Balance Mental Wellbeing and Deadlines
- Motivate and Encourage
In the midst of any crisis, human nature demands that it first takes care of all things urgent. We do not prioritize and check our lists against which challenges need to be met first. This short-sighted outlook makes us feel we need to rest and regroup after tackling all the urgent issues. Most employees fall into this trap and only do tasks and work that have strict deadlines. They do not prioritize, and instead, push all other work aside, believing they will take care of it later. This procrastination of essential tasks to a later time is the issue that most leaders need to address first.
Once you fix what is urgent, there is a tendency to get a sense of self-achievement and think you deserve a well-earned rest. Frequently firefighting and meeting deadlines tend to build up a stagnated response to challenges. Any work that is not deemed urgent is automatically procrastinated and pushed ahead.
Long term focus needs re-prioritization of all tasks, urgent and vital. Focusing on what is essential will help the business thrive in the future. Short term momentum in employees can shift to long term goals and achievements. Do not allow for unnecessary inactivity or boredom to creep into the minds of team members and colleagues. Prioritizing particular tasks and allowing members to contribute and find solutions to existing issues is a great way to increase talent recognition and team participation.
With positive inputs from employees, you can tackle the onslaught of a Covid-free world in a simple and straightforward manner. Most employees have excellent strategy skills and can devise plans and means to help streamline the process of re-entering the market with a bang to maintain momentum and recapture market share.
Dealing with the aftermath of the Covid crises will become as crucial as dealing with the lockdown situation. Giving your employees a set and steady direction will help keep them focused on the end goal instead of allowing them to wallow in self-doubt and boredom.
Balance Mental Wellbeing and Deadlines
The current scenario has led to all sorts of mental well-being concerns. Issues like loneliness, boredom, anxiety, job insecurity, heavy workloads, isolation, and health-related problems have led to an increase in the stress and tension in employees. All employees’ overall mental health and coping mechanisms need to become a prime concern for all leaders.
Most leaders naturally push their team members to perform faster and more efficiently but fail to understand the stresses and related health concerns that arise out of constant pressure. Intervening at the right time and taking positive steps to protect, nurture, and assist with mental fortification and stamina is the need of the hour.
As leaders, it is fundamental to project a strong front with a need to lead from the front. However, it is crucial for your team members to see that you are also normal and have the same issues and concerns as everyone else. Sharing insecurities, problems, and issues with the team will help them realize you are also going through the same difficulties as them. Doing this frequently will also allow employees to understand that this is a safe space for them to share their problems and help them cope.
Constant encouragement and compassion help get through tough times. While this is not a daily thing, it is necessary to keep the team positive, let them know that they are good enough, have a future, and not give up on their hopes and dreams.
Setting achievable goals, allowing flexible timelines, and encouraging and giving feedback will help the team feel that you are committed to their well-being while also providing a definitive way forward.
Motivate and Encourage
Since the vaccine is on the horizon, and many countries have started with the deployment, keeping your spirits high is crucial. Keeping the energy levels and motivation high throughout online meetings and virtual rooms should become your number one priority.
In this final stretch, before the world goes back to normal, you should actively shorten Zoom meetings, share successes, have definitive and positive goals, plan the forward strategy, identify competitors, divide projects, and get geared up to enter the open market again.
Pushing forward this agenda (especially in the final leg of the Covid) will help your team members fortify their mental strength, get charged up to get back out on to the field, prepare for the challenges ahead, and have ready plans for the short and long term.
As a leader, you should ensure that your team knows that they can come to you with their professional concerns. You should also be prepared for setbacks from teammates since they would also be coping with similar issues. Your understanding and encouragement will work wonders for their efficiency.
Leaders need to be resilient, mentally healthy, and ready to face challenges on behalf of their team. Leading by example, is one of the best things you can do as a leader. Resilience, patience, and perseverance will help avoid chaos and confusion. Having clear and definitive goals is just the beginning.
As the team slowly starts migrating from a Work-from-Home to Office environments again, they will look to you to be their steady light. It is at this time that your leadership skills, talent, capabilities, and decisiveness will come into play.
Taking control of your own mind, ensuring everyone else is also taken care of, and being present for your team is what will energize and motivate them to do better each day. Encouragement can work wonders when used with a goal to inspire everyone.
Even though your team is exhausted, seeing you will ensure they keep their spirits high. The last mile of the Coronavirus will see a lot of people losing hope and giving up. Ensure you and your team do not face this issue by being a leader worth following.
Believing in your team and letting them know that you are there to help through their difficulties will bring about an immediate change in how they see things.
You should ensure your team understands the difference between what is urgent and important, and prioritizes accordingly. It is up to you to transparently communicate with your team and support them with their decisions while driving them to do better each day. Balancing mental wellbeing and deadlines, and allowing your teammates the space to grow will help them overcome their insecurities and frustration.
Allow yourself the time to channel their frustration and doubts in the right direction. Your constant encouragement, patience, and kind words will keep the motivation high.