Over the last twelve months, workplaces of all shapes and sizes have had to handle the biggest onslaught of change, uncertainty, lack of connection and instability that we have ever experienced. On a micro level, teams and organisations suffer periods of pain, unwanted change and insecurity all the time, but what singles out this last year, is that nearly all of us, in almost any sector you can think of, has been thrown in at the deep end. At the same time.
I’m a Strengths-based coach and speaker for a living, which basically means I support organisations in their development of people and teams, and I have the privilege of working alongside individuals who are in the process of discovering their purpose. I have witnessed both incredible resilience and innovation from my clients, and also (here’s that word) unprecedented levels of stress and anxiety.
Gallup, a research and data company based in the US, have been tracking measures of happiness and employee engagement since 2009. They noticed some interesting things this last year. Usually, they find that well-being and engagement are connected. That is, the higher our personal wellbeing, the higher our engagement at work (and, the opposite). This year, however, has not followed that trend. Engagement has stayed unexpectedly high (many people are so grateful for work, glad to back from furlough, appreciative of all leaders have done to be supportive), but their wellbeing, in the majority of cases, has plummeted. For some of us, wellbeing is at frighteningly low point, with chronically high levels of stress and anxiety being reported.
As part of our post covid rebuild in the workplace, as leaders we need to be aware that many of our team members have hit or are approaching a breaking point, and these breaking points lead to burnout and suffering with long-term consequences.
As people of peace, as leaders that follow Jesus, how can we best navigate our people through this transition season? How can we step in before breaking point?
1. Have eyes to see
We can be so busy with stuff to do, work to complete, goals to meet, that we forget to see the person right in front of us. Leaders do have so much to contend with right now, and rightly so there is a need to focus on growth in order to protect as many jobs as possible, but sometimes we get so focused on the job in hand that we forget to look. We forget to see the person. We neglect to think about how they are doing, what might be going on for them. In the midst of our busyness, we need to be asking the Lord to speak to us about the people that we lead, giving us divine wisdom and revelation as to how to best support each individual. Scan for signs of burnout, listening to that still small voice that prompts you to investigate a little deeper.
2. Create space to talk
As well as having eyes to see the impact on the people that we are leading, leaders need to create room for people to talk and to process. Of course, everybody is different and not everyone wants or needs to talk. But we cannot just ‘press play’ and return to work without processing some of the impact, pain, grief and uncertainty that has hit most homes across this country. We need to work harder on our questioning, keeping our door open, giving opportunities for colleagues to connect and converse, to recognise the impact on their wellbeing in order to begin to move on.
3. Be a dealer in hope
Hebrews 6 verse 19 reminds us that, ‘We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.’ Our most significant responsibility in this season of resetting and rebuilding is to lead from a place of Hope. We have a hope that is firm and secure and sits outside of any earthly experience. As leaders who are followers of Jesus, we are not called to pretend that everything is okay, but we are called to anchor ourselves in a Hope that is beyond our circumstances. What an opportunity we have in this moment to reflect the Hope of our faith, strong and secure, firmly rooted both in and out of season.
So as leaders that are in the process of rebuilding and reconnecting, I’d love to encourage you to have eyes that are open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, room in your diary to listen and give counsel, and a heart of hope that changes the narrative in the culture around you.
Find out more about Hannah, @hannahloumiller on all platforms or check out her website www.hellosidekick.co