How managers can help employees reset to today’s new, new normal

July 15, 2022

 

Maarika Arget is a Senior Consultant at Manulife focused on workplace well-being.

In the first article of this series, I focused on how employees can reframe and reset to make their return to office experience a positive one. This time, I’m focusing on the role managers play to help employees transition from 2+ years of working from home to coming back to the office.

First off, let’s remember that your organization’s managers are experiencing all the same pressures and changes that your employees are facing. Challenges around new child or eldercare needs, re-establishing commutes, and changing routines hit managers just like everyone else – while they’re also managing new hybrid work arrangements and helping their teams shift back to an office environment.

So how can you help your leadership team navigate this new, new normal? Here are 6 ways you can coach managers to hit the reset button and support their teams through this transition:

 

  1. Embrace empathy as a leadership superpower. More than ever before, empathy is a vital aspect of effective leadership. In today’s “Great Resignation” environment, we can help employees choose to stay by simply acknowledging how hard the last couple of years have been and demonstrating that we care about them – not just the work they do.
     
  2. Tune up their mental health training. What learning could managers do to build skills that help employees manage change and build resilience? Arranging mental health training for your people managers can be a great way to help them create a psychologically safe workplace. We’ve helped many employers arrange training sessions for their employees.
     
  3. Accept that different people have different comfort levels. Managers need to understand that each member of their team may have different feelings and reactions to coming back to the office. They need to consider all the concerns and manage to accommodate these needs. This isn’t easy, but it can make the difference between employees who thrive in their new environment and those who disengage because they feel they aren’t being heard.
     
  4. Hold a ‘manage the reset’ meeting with their teams and in 1:1 conversations. Encourage managers to share their humanity and invite employees to do the same, talking through what everyone is facing. Then explore ideas together about what could help.
     
  5. Be flexible. Many employees have proven in the last two years that they can be productive – regardless of their location. How might managers be able to provide the leeway some employees need? Does their physical location matter? That flexibility to work from home fulltime or even a couple of days a week could make all the difference to a top performer.
     
  6. Give themselves some grace. Leaders are managing a lot of complexity today, and even with empathy and understanding the weeks and months ahead will be difficult. Recognize how important their efforts are and encourage them to keep going. Help them understand that some of the biggest challenges aren’t about solving a problem, but about managing the tensions around the issue. This article by Tim Arnold discusses how leaders can focus on managing tensions to succeed.

Looking for support with your well-being strategy or programming? Reach out to your Manulife representative to get started.

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