All of us expressed about “The New Normal,” but most of us are back to our Casual Normal already! Our proposition towards employees, their well-being, connects, engagement, empathy, and many other behavioral perspectives have already taken a less prioritized place in the list.
NEW NORMAL is not a COVID-19 term. We all have been defining new normal all our lives. It’s a continuous process, and it will persist like that forever.
What occurred in March 2020?
Organizations designed everything around well-being and safety, gave their 100% to be with their employees, and upheld against corona. Business, at least the way the organizations projected it, became secondary.
HR, too, consciously adopted a very innovative, engaging, and different strategy initially. We were clicking and sharing WFH selfies, new workplace pictures, messages on women empowerment, work-life balance tips, cybersecurity tips, safety mailers, and much other self-help support and advice.
Individuals started esteeming each other’s existence and talked about being together, how much we care, how much we want to help, and how much we miss our people.
Overnight, we all became more concerned & attending as we felt the fear of losing our closed ones. We were frightened of the exponential increase in the COVID -19 numbers every day. We were as directionless as anybody else on this planet because of the indeterminate length of uncertainty, no clarity, no medicine, no vaccination & no survival kit. We were all asked to be safe, be home, and be extra circumspect.
How was it by July 2020?
In a survey conducted, 67% of employees asserted that they are being treated the same as before (pre-COVID-19 state) by their managers, HR, organization, and team members which indicates they are back to their usual normal.
Many of us may think that what’s wrong with that? The answer is the approach! We are still coping; we are where we were, but our approach has changed. When it was new, we wanted to accept and embrace this new normal. We all spoke about doing great things with technology, forming new policies, focusing on employee well-being, optimizing cost, and establishing new digital norms. We dropped the ball somewhere in between; we stopped caring, engaging, or maybe showcasing at that level. Gradually, the level of engagement, those announcements, and posts shared on social media to acknowledge our people and the new way of work went missing. A recent survey further validated the current situation; the data talks about:
- A substantial 87% dip in engagement initiatives levels compared to what companies were doing when this Pandemic hit us in Feb/March.
- Also, an 82% dip in activities and online events where HR declared to engage employees who are physically distanced but virtually connected.
It’s fathomable that the pace at which norms and way of work were changing was unmatchable; it was realistically impossible to find a solution to all our problem statements. Every day carried news of developments, and that pushed us to introduce significant initiatives with high intent. I perceive the start was apt and impressive; we all arose as true front liners but then lacked in sustaining the much-needed approach of the time, which necessitated some tweaking every day. I read somewhere this small story that “You come upstairs and drink three glasses of water to quench your thirst. However, the level of pleasure the first glass brought doesn’t remain the same when you are at the third glass”. Why does our interest decrease over time? Even if the decline is marginal and ignorable. What happens to our passion, competition, best practices, and the desperation to bring change that we project on day one?
The answer is the approach! We are still coping; we are where we were, but our approach has changed. When it was new, we wanted to accept and embrace this new normal. We all spoke about doing great things with technology, forming new policies, focusing on employee well-being, optimizing cost, and establishing new digital norms. We dropped the ball somewhere in between; we stopped caring, engaging, or maybe showcasing at that level.
How did we become this casual so soon, in this so-called new normal scenario?
In another survey, where 120 industry leaders – CEOs, CFOs, CHROs, and other HR professionals and employees participated, indicated that
92% of employees sense that their respective organization is not as involved or as before, whereas 76 % of leaders and HR professionals insisted that they are still doing their best to keep employees engaged and informed. HUGE GAP!
Walk the talk is the most talked-about attribute after empathy and trust. Are we able to connect the dots and bridge the gap?
Formally or casually stating or persuading that we care won’t help; it never did! CARE is an intense, emotional, high maintenance, subjective ACT!
CARE is about CONTENT, APPROACH, and REASON & ENABLER. Let me break it further for a better understanding of this model/concept:
And a bonus component – METHOD:
C: Communicate A: Adapt R: Respond E: Engage
Employee well-being is the need of the hour. The current scenario is disastrous, and we all understand that people seek more care when the situation is appalling; they seek more connect and clarity when everything around is so unpredictable.” Communication has always been the firmest pillar of the HR profile. Let’s not walk away from that: Talk, Share, Convey, Listen, and understand: Communicate!
The positive aspect is that 48% of companies were voted as great companies to work for during challenging scenarios. Not everybody is lost. The belligerence approach towards being a change agent has slipped down drastically in a few organizations, including mine. No one to blame; we need to retrospect and then introspect to get the correct answer. But before that, let’s get the right question. Find that “WHY”!
Time to think! Are we adapting to the situation or our comfort?
Is it a new vibrant normal or our old casual normal?
Aptly said by Les Brown that “If you go through life being casual, you will end up a casualty.”