Your return shall be splendid!

TEMA (Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion), one of the NGOs I keep a close eye on the projects of, started a campaign recently with the slogan “Your return shall be splendid!”. The slogan caught my eye, and I wanted to plug it here in my writing to bring it some well-deserved attention.

(You too can visit and take a look at the posts with the hashtag #dönüşümmuhteşemolacak.)

Along with this beautiful slogan, I decided to discuss my opinions on normalization and the new normal, filtered through the perspective of employees and employee engagement. Speaking of, do you have a plan as to how you will return to your normal when this era of remote work ends, or slows down? I tried to define a simple roadmap based on the information I’ve gotten from chats with many company owners and executives, articles by the world’s most established consulting firms, and my own observations. I am hopeful that it will grow and thrive though your comments and suggestions.

Don’t you think the new normal is quite scary?

I don’t know about you, but from the first moment I heard the words ‘the new normal’ I’ve been wary about them. Truthfully, I find this definition ill-advised from a humanitarian perspective. Yes, a life awaits us where nothing will be like it was before, but still one finds it hard to face the fact that the world they were accustomed to, trusted, and knew its rules is no more.

If we are going to use this term, and it seems to be the case, we need to have a game plan that makes our employees feel safe. These are the notes I’ve taken:

  • Whether you have 5 or 500 employees, learn people’s stories. You can establish the formula to accomplish this with your team, or with the help of a consulting firm. What you need to do is simple. How did people live when they were remote? How close did Covid-19 come to them? Do they have children? What will they do in this era when kindergartens and preschools are closed? Does it scare them to return? What are they most wary of? These questions can be infinitely multiplied, but the general point is to be aware and informed about the situations your employees are in. While doing this, sincerely reveal your goals, let them think not that you are playing detective but that you are working on solutions fitting them.
  • Talk through your plans to adapt into the new normal with your executive teams and mid-level managers in detail. Separately assess the workplace safety solutions, the stories of their people, all possibilities of every department and division. If you are thinking, “Okay, this was an era, now it has passed!” cast that out of your mind right now. Today all over the globe millions of people are unsure of what to do when they need to go to work. There are some extremely scared of the risks of public transportation. There are people unable to wear masks! Not ones who don’t want to, but cant! Instead of ignoring peoples emotions and fears, it is possible to understand them and produce solutions with a compassionate attitude. Doing this is essential in long-term successful leadership.
  • I bet you are thinking of physical solutions. Using disinfectants, taking temperature, wearing masks, etc.. there already has to be a series of regulations put into effect for standardized practices. But I suggest taking your own humanitarian precautions as well. From AC to ventilation, from regulating entrance and exit hours of employees to lunchrooms, create your own unique solutions.
  • Make sure all of these practices you implement are made visible. Your employees should know of their value and importance for you. Share, ask their opinions, ensure their participation. Keep a tight rein on inclusivity. Treat and communicate with everyone equally. Do not simply inform the white collars and disregard the blue. Plan your communicative efforts not only towards your employees but towards all your partners no matter their rank or position. Increase both awareness and your corporate reputation.
  • Know that client visits, meetings, sales marketing activities and travel will not be going according to its regular agenda for a while. Instead of making a hectic plan to make up for all the lost time, make a grounded and safe one. Look into online options when it comes to client visits. Have your teams assess your clients’ expectations. When travel is indispensable, check that your travel plans have the green light — with the approval of both sides. As for accommodation, eating outside, etc. make sure that you fend for your employees and show them that you do.

These suggestions can be infinitely multiplied, and can be diversified according to the organization. During this time, talk of unlimited unpaid time offs, violations of legal rights, practices disregarding employee right, even human rights, have reached our ears one way or another. All across the globe. There is corporate living way beyond the ideal definitions we all share in LinkedIn articles. But we don’t call that corporate. We don’t really know what to call it.
I wish you all healthy days.

Isik Serifsoy

CEO Engage & Grow

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