Workplace Reset | New (And Old) Expectations For Your Returning Workers

Article contributed by Allison Ebner

It’s not getting any easier for HR. Many organizations are currently in the middle of a new and complex challenge…Reuniting a workforce that has been fully remote, hybrid or furloughed due to the pandemic. Transitioning over to a new workforce model, with enhanced rules and guidelines, is proving to be easier said than done for many HR professionals. And even the most well intended plans can have consequences that leaders don’t see coming.

As you embark on this journey, remember to be patient. Re-acclimating employees back into your worksite will take time and communication to insure that you’re sending the right message of guidance, empathy and expectations. By providing employees with the opportunity to make challenges and concerns known, you’ll enable your managers and leaders to spot issues early on. And it gives you the chance to prepare for the likely uptick in ethics and compliance complaints that will result from the new dynamics. So what can we expect to see? Here’s just a sampling of the potential issues:

Insubordination | The pandemic pivot last year came with very little structure. Grab your laptop and set up shop with your cat! In your kitchen! Do what you can – Kids home learning remotely…No problem. Do your best. And most employees did just that. What did that world lack? Consequences. Benchmarks. Performance metrics. Now we’re putting those back and it can be a rude awakening for some staffers that enjoyed the ‘no consequences’ workstyle. They may dig in, so be sure to outline specific expectations for the reset and don’t forget to tell them WHY this is important.

Insults and Drama | We know this is your favorite issue…employee relations drama! She said this to her and then he stepped in to say this to them and on it goes. With the rise of the Delta COVID variant in our midst, the ongoing mask and vaccine differences are rising to the surface once again. With everyone returning to your workplace, old rivalries may resurface. Be sure to set the ground rules in place for everyone and then communicate them out FREQUENTLY and through a variety of channels. Share your code of conduct, harassment and workplace violence policies with all returning staff and host full employee meetings (with your leadership team present) and outline the rules. In short – YOU tell the story of what is expected in full detail. Don’t give your staff room to write the story for you.

Performance Issues | Performance management is back. And it should be. So let’s get it moving in the right direction. The bottom line:  COVID changed everything. So we have to come back smarter and stronger, and train our managers to use their emotional intelligence and company knowledge to deliver coaching-based performance feedback. It’s critical that they are setting clear, concise objectives for your employees and then participating in the success of the outcome. It doesn’t matter if you’re in banking or manufacturing…Communicate the expectations, share the big picture goals and monitor progress with coaching and motivation. And do this frequently. Try quarterly check in’s for every team member and their manager. It doesn’t have to be a long meeting. Keep them simple – Use STOP, START, CONTINUE! (If you want to know more about this, email me and we can chat!

As you embark on this journey of the great workplace reset, remember that the team here at EANE is ready to assist you! Our HOTLINE is open for calls, and our staff stands ready to support your efforts around employee safety, wellness and training. We can do this together!