People seem to be chomping at the bit to “return to normal”, even though things are still far from normal. Economic good news, wider spread access to vaccines, and more variety in activities than we’ve had in a year have all contributed to this yearning.
Zeroing in on some of the economic news: last week the Labor Department reported that job openings surged to a two-year high and the March jobs report indicated that 916,000 new jobs were added in March.
Is this a turning point or a blip?
Although it has the characteristics of a turning point, we need to keep in mind that there are still millions of jobs that have been, in effect, permanently displaced as a result of the pandemic.
Many companies are functioning with a slimmer staff while doing the same amount of (or more) work. Leaders are hesitant to add to staff after having laid off or furloughed employees during this past 14 months.
At some point this will shift. But in the meantime, remember that employees are burned out from some combination of overwork, eroded boundaries, and (for remote workers) the isolation from working from home.
Furthermore, many people are still afraid of pandemic-related concerns, and this has a big impact on their mindset while they concurrently crave that normalcy.
Of course, the economics of adding staff need to work for you. In the meantime, here is one simple idea that you can implement to help your employees right away: encourage them to take some vacation time. Even if it is only a long weekend, people need to separate from work to have a breather.
When you suggest this, make sure you give them air cover. If they feel guilty about taking off a few days, this plan will ricochet and backfire. Your sincerity in trying to improve your team’s quality of life can go a long way in patching a fragile workforce’s morale.