The pandemic has lasted much longer than we anticipated. Our responses to it quickly have become permanent. Pandemic fatigue is real. The TD function can lead the efforts to help the organization, and everyone in it, to reset and recharge. There are many things we can do:
Start with purpose. It is why the organization exists. You can help to organize the events and manage the communications that remind employees of the value they bring. Imagine with them how that purpose can be realized going forward. Create messages of hope focused on the mission.
Make recharging a part of that vision. Accenture, Google, Intuit, and a host of other companies have made wellness a critical part of their company culture and employee brand. At Hilti, RECONNECT was a deliberate and major theme of its annual kick-offs around the world (both virtual and in person.) Plains All American Pipeline listened to employees and realized that the uncertainty of the past few years equaled stress. A company-wide event, “Managing Your Stress Mash-Up” led by Mark Goulston addressed how employees were feeling and how to best handle it.
Proactively seek recovery. Block out time. Help employees identify the things that recharge them and give them the time and support to do them. T-Mobile launched the Live Magenta website to help employees and their family members reach personal, physical, and financial goals with help from a wide array of free resources. And Google lets employees donate their unused days off to other employees who need them more.
Start by listening. Not just to business or professional issues that employees may have but to their personal issues as well. Both have impact. Executive listening tours have become a popular and successful approach, and companies are also using tech-based crowdsourcing tools to listen and gain insights. Choice Hotels has set up periodic agenda-free 30-minute skip-level one-on-one meetings as an opportunity for people to connect and discuss anything that’s on their mind. Topics can be about work or personal issues. And CTDO Next companies make it a point to teach managers to “listen to what they don’t want to hear” and not miss critical messages just because they are difficult.
Build a plan for change based on what you learn. Do the things you can do unilaterally right away. Don’t announce your plans to do them; just do them. Those that require people to change with you become part of a larger plan and a larger communication strategy.
Involve people in planning for a better future. Let them participate in creating the new workplace and new work rules.
Create more human-centered policies, processes, and practices. What changes due to the pivot are too demanding to be sustained permanently? What old requirements will have to be modified or abandoned to create a healthy work environment? Companies like Bumble and Hootsuite have adopted actual recharge weeks or wellness weeks during which the entire company takes time off to recharge. Guardian Life and Vivint Solar have drastically changed their PTO policies. Adobe, Lionsgate, Esty, and others have added more generous paid leave policies. And TD can exert a lot of control over opening development policies and options.
Focus on connection, care, and holistic well-being. Don’t just treat burnout; determine it and fix the causes. The TD functions in some companies are augmenting more traditional training programs and creating new spaces for people to share how they are truly doing.
Increase celebrations. Make sure that, with all the hard work ahead, your organization reflects on the incredible progress you have made and honors those who have worked and sacrificed.
And perhaps most obviously, help people build their ability to thrive. One large pharmaceutical company just rolled out a broad-based program aimed at building skills of adaptability, learning, and coping.
For more advice, register for the June 23 webinar. Talent development leaders from Wex, Hilti, WM, and 11th Hour Group will present practical ideas and powerful stories about how talent development leaders can build their people’s ability to thrive.