As I write this blog, I’m hoping the content will be irrelevant when winter comes. I ran across this article on CNN last month: “Americans need to ‘hunker down’ this fall and winter as Covid-19 pandemic will likely worsen, Fauci says.” Most of us in the United States have been fortunate during the pandemic to enjoy good weather during the spring and summer months that has allowed us to spend time outside.
For me personally, I’ve spent more time outside this spring and summer than normal. The weather has allowed me to take regular walks and responsibly socialize with people. These activities have helped relieve some of the stress and anxiety related to the pandemic. When the winter comes, there may be days, weeks, and months when that time outside will not be possible.
As I said at the beginning, I’m hoping the content of this blog will be irrelevant when winter comes, and we will have a vaccine. In my work with scenario planning, I know that hope is not a good strategy. We need to plan for different scenarios.
I’m concerned about people this winter. In my work as an organizational leadership, strategy, and creativity consultant, I regularly help develop successful leaders and create plans for future success. We all know that our employees are critical to organizational success, and their personal lives impact their professional work. I encourage employers to develop a strategy to ensure you are ready for the winter.
Here are some ways to support your employees and be ready for the winter:
Strategies for combating anxiety: My friend Dr. Jim Schroeder is a psychologist, and he recently wrote an article titled “We can do this.” He suggests three strategies for combating anxiety, and I encourage you to consider how you can foster these mindsets in your workplace. The first mindset is gratitude, and he describes how the act of being thankful has a positive impact on our health and happiness. The next tool is empathy. When we embrace empathy, it helps us focus on someone other than ourselves. He concludes by discussing the “discipline of challenge versus despair.” This mindset helps us focus on opportunities and allows us to convince ourselves that we can get through this challenging time.
Promote physical fitness and a proper diet: There are many studies supporting the benefits of exercise and healthy eating on our mental and physical health. This might be a great time for your organization to explore ways to encourage activities that promote physical fitness and a proper diet.
Focus on employee engagement: I’ve written about Gallup’s research on employee engagement in previous blogs, and I think this is a time to really think about engagement. As Gallup shared in their book, It’s the Manager, the role of the leader is extremely important. Clifton and Harter (2019, p. 12) found that “70% of the variance in team engagement is determined solely by the manager.” Leaders have an opportunity now to ensure their employees and teams are engaged. Gallup’s (2019) research has led to identifying “The 12 Elements of Great Management” that can be answered by employees to determine the level of engagement of individuals and entire organizations:
- I know what is expected of me at work.
- I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
- At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
- In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
- My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
- There is someone at work who encourages my development.
- At work, my opinions seem to count.
- The mission or purpose of my organization makes me feel my job is important.
- My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
- I have a best friend at work.
- In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
- This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow. (pp. 286-300)
As many organizations have moved to virtual work and adopted social distancing practices, I think many of these elements of employee engagement have been neglected. I encourage managers and leaders to wholeheartedly commit themselves to ensuring their employees are engaged. It could begin with a discussion or survey around these elements followed by a plan to enhance employee engagement.
Coronavirus anxiety resources: I ran across an excellent website with resources related to virus anxiety. If you are looking for tools, I encourage you to look at this site: Care for your coronavirus anxiety.
Leaders have a tremendous opportunity now to make a difference on the lives of those around them. I hope you can apply these ideas now or create a plan for the winter.
If you need help enhancing your organizational leadership or develop a strategy for success, please contact us.
Clifton, J., & Harter, J. (2019). It’s the manager. Gallup Press.
T.A. Dickel Group, LLC is located in Evansville, Indiana, and we focus on enhancing organizational leadership, strategy, and creativity in the surrounding region.
Dr. Tad Dickel is a leadership, strategy, and creativity consultant who works with businesses, nonprofits, colleges, schools, and churches. He received a Certificate in Family Business Advising from the Family Firm Institute, a Certificate in Nonprofit Board Consulting from BoardSource, a Certificate in Fundraising Management from The Fund Raising School, a Certificate in Foundations of Design Thinking from IDEO U, and holds a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Indiana State University. Tad is a Certified Basadur Simplexity Thinking Facilitator and Trainer, Certified Basadur Profile Administrator, and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Certified Practitioner.