How to support your team into the new normal
Wizu COO, Natasha Babar-Evans, shares with us how businesses can help employees effectively return to the workplace in this new normal. From supporting different routines to being open to new arrangements, Natasha shares how Wizu approached their back to work strategy.
In a supportive organisation, if you have a “life event” which involves a significant break from your career, it’s often the norm for employers to help you prepare for that transition back to the workplace.
This year, we’ve all encountered one of the most impactful, and shared life events ever imaginable. Businesses therefore must take the right steps to ensure employees are supported back into their workplace routines, especially since how they handle this could have a significant impact on their recovery time.
Helping employees transition back to the new workplace
Unlike with a typical leave of absence, supporting employees back into the workplace now is much more than just helping them adjust to new routines and relationships. Right now, there’s a brand new normal to adjust to, so having a plan in place is essential.
As a manager and leader at Wizu, the safety of our team and our members has always been a top priority. Whilst we couldn’t predict how our team would feel about coming back to work and how they would cope in this new environment, we found that flexibility and new forms of communication helped us to achieve our new sense of normal – one that our team felt happy to return to.
It will certainly take some time for us all to fully adjust, but here are some ways we’ve helped to create our new normal, in a way that works for everyone.
1. Give everyone a voice (and don’t stop asking!)
In this situation, everyone will have different needs which will impact their personal preference for returning to work.
Whether it was due to limitations around transport or having little ones at home, we found it was important to give everyone a voice in how we move forward, so we could tailor our new normal to something that worked for everyone.
And it’s not a one time conversation. Since things can change quickly, we’re continuing to have weekly discussions with staff to understand how comfortable they feel and find out if there’s anything else we can be doing to make their adjustment period easier.
2. Provide engaging health & safety training
To show our commitment to the safety of our team, we ran a Zoom Health and Safety session before any of our staff returned to the workspace. This allowed them to understand the changes we’d made to keep them safe and how any of these specific changes impacted their roles. It was clear from the feedback we received that laying out all the new processes and risk assessments we’d taken to keep them safe made a huge difference to how comfortable they felt about returning to work.
I also think holding this session via a Zoom call rather than simply emailing out the new measures really made a difference in reassuring our team, so I would definitely recommend this more personal approach.
3. Be flexible and implement new measures quickly
Commuting has been a top concern for many of our team members, which has led us to installing new bike enhancements in our buildings. Of course, this doesn’t work for everyone, which is why we’ve also quickly introduced flexible working arrangements to fit in with everyone’s newly adjusted schedules. This then give those who need to use public transport the opportunity to travel at quieter times.
4. Hold a refresh training session
We’ve all had that moment after returning from a few weeks on holiday where we can’t quite remember our passwords or even where to begin! For some, especially those who’ve been on furlough, it’s been months away – which means it’s naturally going to take time to adjust.
While we have an incredibly experienced team at Wizu, we’ve used the opportunity to go through some of the basics with the team again and revisit our KPIs and goals (some of which required updates based on our new normal!).
5. Find out how priorities have changed
The last few months have been a time for reflection for most people, meaning long-term plans and motivations may have changed for many employees. We’ve held personal development sessions with our team to understand these changes and how these can be reflected in their roles and in their development plans.
Takeaways from going back to the new normal
My personal, biggest takeaway from all of this has been about not making assumptions on how the pandemic has affected people. It’s only by talking to people on an individual level that you can truly get a feel for their experience and needs, so I would encourage all employers to take this personal approach to their workforce.
There’s also been some clear benefits that have arisen from this whole process, providing us with new opportunities to make positive changes in the business.
For now, it’s vital that we help our city centre’s and reboot the economy, so we get ever closer to a normal we once knew.
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