Promoting And Cultivating Resilience Upon Returning To The Workplace

Getting back to work as the COVID-19 pandemic curve begins to flatten is sure to be challenging for businesses of every size. Making sure employees feel safe will be challenging enough. Dealing with the range of unexpected emotions that surface may be the bigger challenge. For instance, you might have employees who don’t want to return to working onsite if their work can be successfully accomplished at home. There may be other employees who decide they don’t want to return at all. Many people are questioning their lives during this time and deciding what’s most important to them. Returning to a job that is not fully satisfying may not be an option for many. The landscape is sure to shift, change and morph in ways few can anticipate at the moment. And the ensuing emotional upheaval is going to affect everyone.

Studying Resilience

So, I am reading about and doing my best to incorporate resilience in myself and sharing what I learn with my employees, clients and readers. I also wrote about the difference between resistance and resilience in last month’s article. (Read Resilience by clicking here) One of the most interesting things I recently discovered about the quality of resilience is that it is definitely not a Pollyanna positive attitude. In fact it is much more practical and permeated with what one might consider pessimism. I read about Admiral Jim Stockdale, who many of you may remember was held prisoner for seven and a half long years during the Vietnam war. According to Stockdale, he said that the optimists among the prisoners, the ones who expected to be rescued quickly, did not survive. He said, “I think they all died of broken hearts.”

In fact there is a concept that was popularized by author Jim Collins in his book Good to Great, called the Stockdale Paradox. The gist of the idea is that in very difficult situations where it’s virtually impossible to see the future and envision creative solutions to problems, you need to balance realism with optimism. According to an article at Harvard Business Review, “Facing reality, really facing it, is grueling work. Indeed, it can be unpleasant and often emotionally wrenching.” https://hbr.org/2002/05/how-resilience-works

What Neuroscience Has To Say

I’ve also been looking into what neuroscience has to say about our human responses during pandemics and other emergency situations. Psychology Today has an interesting article that elaborates on a variety of ways the brain functions which explains why we tend to hoard toilet paper and overeat. In addition, the following helps explain some of the more emotional uncertainties. The author states, “Predictable situations give us a false sense of control. The current global situation is erecting a new reality that our brains find undesirable. Many things seem unknown today, and tomorrow is stained with uncertainty. The frontal lobe struggles to find some givens—parameters to feel confident about planning ahead. This makes subservient emotional parts freak out even more. This explains why the frontal lobe has been generating some arbitrary decisions.” https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/neuroscience-in-everyday-life/202003/10-things-the-brain-does-in-response-pandemic

Back To Resilience

One of the most compelling things neuroscience tells us is that fearmongering only makes things worse. And it turns out that resilience is more important than education, experience or training. In fact, one’s “level of resilience will determine who succeeds and who fails. That’s true in the cancer ward, it’s true in the Olympics, and it’s true in the boardroom.” Those words are from Dean Becker, the president and CEO of Adaptiv Learning Systems, in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. And, I’ll just add, it’s true in a global pandemic.

While this global pandemic makes it easy for us humans to ruminate on thoughts of despair, try to curtail that kind of thinking when employees return to the workplace. We can never know what will happen in the future. So, instead, cultivate and inspire a combination of thoughtful planning and place intentional focus on the good things that can come out of any difficult situation. Focus on more collaboration and making members working remotely feel integral to the team.

Safe Promotional Ideas For Employees, Clients And Prospects 

For ideas to welcome your employees back onsite, which will work as promotional items for your clients and prospects as well, see the blog I wrote earlier this month Ideas To Safely Motivate Teams Back To The Workplace And A New Normal.

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