Kristi Allen

Many employees and people managers are going through change brought on by outside forces out of their control. An economic and health crisis, social unrest, remote work, isolation, and more.  The level of change being experienced in such a short-period of time is unprecedented. 

As a result of expedited change and alternate working environments, an additional issue is rapidly rising between employees and people managers as they learn to navigate multiple crises at the same time. It’s clear that the previously well known balance of work and family is breaking down as the expectations for many to balance work, family, school demands, and more has remained the same, while pressures of maintaining or increasing work output is rising.

30+ people shared their feedback in a social media poll I conducted on the top challenges that have risen between employees and managers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

What is one challenge you’re seeing arise between managers and employees during the pandemic?

New challenges are summarized in order of highest agreement of concern from the poll respondents.

— The same or higher expectations when literally everything has changed.

— Not adjusting the workload to account for the fact that we are employees and stay-at-home parents.

— Not recognizing that we’re all grieving (the loss of ‘normal’ lives) and making adjustments to be more gentle with ourselves and others.

— Extreme Zoom fatigue and the feeling of having to be ‘on’ for larger amounts of time due to the video production. 

— Video is turning into the only acceptable way to have a conversation while working virtually. What happened to phone calls?

— Failing to keep the line of communication going and a lack of leader outreach. 

— Keeping a pulse on how people are doing (without being another obligation).

This raises a critical question: What strategies can employees and people managers do to close the labor gap before it appears, before burnout, before the closure of the proverbial career door? 

Over the last 16 years working in business environments as an employee (individual contributor) and a people manager, I’ve learned and coached others on how to navigate change and maximize time by getting organized, setting boundaries, and being intentional.

Our work environment is different, the world is different, and ultimately, we’re different than before the crisis. We must now adapt the way we work, how we view our accountability to the work, and how managers bring value to their teams or risk burnout, a growing mental health crisis, or loss of talent entirely.

Employees – What can you try, test, and adjust on your own? Consider these 5 strategies for employees to enhance home and balance.

Managers – What can you do to help support your employees to bring productivity while enabling your team to have balance? Consider these 4 strategies you can deploy to support your employees while leading in challenging times.

Lasting Thoughts

If you already think you’re doing enough, push further. Take time to step back with your team to determine how you need to adjust to be the most productive together and individually to bring balance. Employees and people managers spend many hours together, it’s important that the relationship maintains its strength through these crises to keep the business running, while purposefully avoiding the pitfalls.

Questions? Any advice or experiences to add? Share below in the comments — I look forward to reading them and responding! 

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