Post-COVID Stress Disorder: How to Overcome it for Current Staff and New Hires
Studies have shown that the pandemic, as a traumatic event, has resulted in increased amounts of anxiety and depression which have resulted in an effect that psychologists are calling post-COVID stress disorder.
Statistics also show that nearly everyone has elevated levels of anxiety about going back to work. Employees, especially at entry or mid-career levels, are especially prone to anxiety when it comes to going back to - or continuing - work. In fact, employee focus has dropped by 59% from pre-pandemic levels. Since we’re in the middle of a labor shortage, it falls to management to make sure current employees are happy in their roles and soothe the fears of new hires with a warm welcome.
Promoting a “back to work” mentality with current employees
Many workers are quitting their jobs as their priorities change. The key to being a company that people choose not to leave is to meet people in the middle and see what they need in order to stick around. Quite a few want more pay and benefits, and some may just want the ability to work remotely either a few days a week or full-time. Your current employees want more, need more, and when they get it they will get their focus and drive back. That’s the simplest solution to the problem.
It may be beneficial to create a psychological turning point for everyone at work, and this is something that your HR team can help to put together. The carrot should be something like an event or celebration. This could be a party for the return to the office, a group outing, or a retreat. Whatever it is, a celebration like this can help to promote the end of “pandemic thinking” in the workplace.
This should be followed up with one-on-one meetings to find out what employee challenges are and how you can help surmount them to get their workflow back to normal. A company-wide “let’s get back to business” announcement could scare already anxious employees; imparting the message to them personally, while addressing their concerns, is the best way to go.
Managers: Be prepared for a lack of “eager beaver” thinking from new hires
In the Before Times, managers were used to new recruits starting a job with bright, happy attitudes and an eagerness to please in their first weeks on the job. Unfortunately, now is the (hopefully) After Times, and that just won’t be the case for many new hires. The people you are hiring are either people who may have been asked to take on too much at a previous position, people who are abandoning a company which wouldn’t allow them to work remotely, or people who have been out of the workforce for a long time.
Out of the three, people who have been out of the workforce are more likely to be a bit more eager, but most will just want to train as fast as possible so they can start churning out results that justify their paycheck.
If you read the above paragraph and thought “Well, I just won’t hire those types of people...” - think again. The United States is in the middle of one of the largest labor shortages the country has faced, and you are going to get what you get when it comes to new staff. We are collectively in a situation where if someone has the skills, but maybe not 100% the correct attitude, you have to hire them to avoid falling behind. It’s up to you to switch up your management and work style to create excitement in your new hires that may not be there on their first day.
So how do you fire new staff up, even if they’re a bit down in the dumps? In a world of automation, be more human. Don’t bark orders through email and leave your team to work away in their own silos - have regular team meetings and one-on-ones with your people. The more time you invest in them, the more trust you will build and the better they will feel about their jobs. Also, make sure your onboarding process is up to the task of a post-pandemic workforce - it may need tweaking so as not to overload people during their first week on the job.
Both current and new staff need structure: give it to them
Chances are pretty good that your business has let things go a little during the pandemic. Can’t make that deadline? OK. Have a weird process for approvals and a hodgepodge of technology that people have to navigate? Sure, fine. Now is the time to streamline the business and make sure no roadblocks exist to your workflows. Project management software, CRMs, and other technology solutions can help you bust bad habits and enter the pandemic recovery economy with a roar. They also will give employees some much-needed structure, with easy-to-see deadlines and tasks.
One of the tools in your tech arsenal post-pandemic should be Prodoscore. This productivity management solution will show you exactly how your team is using their tech every day, and assign a productivity score to each team member. The pandemic really launched Prodoscore into the stratosphere with the need to keep an unobtrusive eye on remote teams, and it will continue to be a manager’s best friend as businesses navigate the new workplace where flexibility is key. Contact us for a demo today.