Last week’s People Management survey found nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of respondents cited ‘general anxiety’ as their organisation’s main challenge currently.
HR can make a huge difference to helping employees at home feel less overwhelmed with the changes everyone is struggling to cope with.
We are hearing how HR teams are working closely with their leadership teams to role model good communication and connection at a time when the vast majority of employees are still in shock and denial at having to leave the security of their professional routine.
Revisiting the concept of the change curve
It is helpful for HR and managers to re-familiarise themselves with the change curve to anticipate employee reactions and provide timely support:
The first reactions to change are most often around disbelief – it takes people a while to absorb what is happening to them and many cope with this by carrying on with their routines as much as they possibly can – simply choosing to ‘disbelieve’ what is happening around them. Productivity and motivation is often temporarily unaffected during this initial stage of reaction to change.
HR and managers can help alleviate the negative emotions through communication, which helps reassure employees, and relieves uncertainty. In addition to company-wide communication, HR can set up online communities – for example a portal for working parents who are struggling with the very unique set of circumstances of managing their children as well as their work.
Frustration and the ‘Valley of Despair’
The next stage of the change curve is when the most emotional support is needed as individuals struggle to cope with their reactions to the change. As we move into the next phase, we can feel frustration and anger, which come with the realisation that things are going to be different. Some individuals blame others at this point and some turn their anger inwards. This can then lead to individuals hitting the bottom of the change curve, where they can feel depressed and hopeless. This point is where people can feel low in motivation and lacking in energy.
Helping people up the curve to experiment, decide and integrate
The more emotional support there is, the easier it is for many to start moving into the positive and action-focused part of the change curve. Most people find that talking through their concerns helps them to come to terms with unhelpful thought patterns, which may have been holding them back. Having someone to listen to you increases your self-esteem and relieves feelings of isolation, which in turn can enable us to move closer to taking action and feeling positive.
Top 3 ways to support communication and connection
- Support managers to communicate well remotely with individuals and teams – as a general rule of thumb, more communication is needed during times of change
- Encourage connection by putting like-minded groups in touch with each other. For example, you could hold a webinar for working parents, open up daily 1-hour slots for virtual drop-in sessions or set up mentoring profiles on your website for others to connect with
- Ensure your employees know what support there is – for example recommunicate your Employee Assistance Programme helplines or send out a reminder of any coaching programmes you have running
Chief Executive of the CIPD, Peter Cheese said:
‘Employers need to take a flexible approach, especially for people with younger children who will inevitably need more care, with many schools looking at remote teaching, parents will have to juggle their work with helping their children to access school activities.’