COVID-19: A LETTER TO OUR TEAM By Erik Reagan, CEO FOCUS LAB.

COVID-19: A LETTER TO OUR TEAM

It’s been surreal to watch COVID-19 make its mark across the globe. From international coverage, national declarations, state-wide news conferences, and city updates, we’ve had a lot of things in front of us. I wanted to take a few minutes to collect my thoughts and plans for Focus Lab so we can continue to be operating from the same play

1. NOW, MORE THAN EVER, WE NEED TO BE PATIENT WITH ONE ANOTHER AND EXTEND GRACE IN ALL DIRECTIONS. THAT INCLUDES PATIENCE AND GRACE WITH AND FOR YOURSELF.

You may find yourself or others struggling to attend our regular meetings with new things happening around us during work hours. Or perhaps meetings are fine, but it’s a struggle to create the same space for deep work that we had previously. Whatever the changes and struggles, know that you have the support and encouragement of your team leaders to flex your schedule around in a way that works best for your family and your projects.

When the chance to be present to people’s thoughts and feelings arrives, we show up. And we do so with an earnest desire to meet them where they are, from a place of openness and humility.

OUR CORE VALUE, “EMPATHY IN ACTION”

If you find that you need to adjust your work hours a bit, the most important thing is that you communicate this clearly to your team leader and those with whom you work closely.

Be gracious with and understanding of one another when unexpected things come up. Certain meetings may be less optimal for some time, simply due to the suddenness of these changes. I could write up all the tips in my head and on the internet and still not cover every possibility of what we might experience in working from home, so that leads me to my second call to action.

2. ADAPTABILITY WILL BE A FOUNDATIONAL TOOL THROUGHOUT THE COMING WEEKS.

If there’s one thing I can guarantee you for the coming weeks, it’s this: There will be surprises. From changes we’re making to how we work, to changes that our clients need to make, to types of change we can’t anticipate. Changes will come. And we all need to have a spirit and mind of adaptability. If we don’t approach each workday with the willingness to accept something new or unexpected, this will be much harder.

It’s time to flex this newly developed “Yes, and” muscle!

Some Personal Suggestions

If you would permit me, there are two things I want to mention I believe them to be valuable and worth mentioning to the team today.

The first is about your family budget. It’s yet unclear what the economic impact of COVID-19 will be on the globe. In this uncertainty, I think it’s wise to hone in on your financial management. Spend only where you need to for a time.

The second is about protecting your health. I’m talking not just about physical health, but also emotional and mental. Your health affects your ability to care for yourself and those around you. Here are a few things worth thinking about:

  • If you typically go to a gym, but can’t right now, consider some at-home exercise. Don’t just let the physical activity go to the wayside. 
  • Stay Hydrated
  • Close social media and news sources while you’re working.
  • Consider giving this article a read: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy During the Coronavirus Outbreak
  • Take time to breathe. If that sounds strange or new to you, I encourage you to check out your App Store for meditation apps that have useful guides for simple breathing practices.
  • Reach out to your friends and family. And I don’t mean via social media, but rather a voice or video call. Stay connected emotionally while we can’t all be connected physically.

WRAPPING UP

We’re all adjusting. We have a steady barrage of media coming our way during every moment that passes. So as we settle into our work week, work diligently to set the media to the side and be digitally present with your team, your work, and our clients. You might consider setting specific hours where you read on your state’s latest updates regarding COVID-19.

And lastly, as cheesy as it may sound, try to stay positive. It’s easy to get pulled out by the undertow of negativity. Yes, this is a negative worldwide event we’re experiencing. But we can’t allow that to result in us wearing negative lenses as we look at everything around us. Be cautious about how you’re looking at the things around you.

Prioritize gratitude.

Prioritize moments of silence.

Prioritize being fully present with those around you.

Prioritize positivity.

There was a man who traveled to a village to speak to a wise man. He said to the wise man, “I feel like there are two dogs inside me. One dog is positive, loving, kind, and optimistic and then I have this fearful, pessimistic, angry, and negative dog and they fight all the time. I don’t know who is going to win.” The wise man thinks for a moment and responds, “I know who is going to win. The one you feed the most. 

So feed the positive dog.”

There you have it. With each day that begins, feed the positive dog.

With Gratitude,


Erik.

WORK-LIFE BALANCE

work-life balance
2020 Workplace Trends

There was a time when working late nights and weekends seemed like the prerequisite to earning more money, advancement, and recognition in the workplace. In a bid to earn more income, some employees would put in extra hours, sacrifice their time and extracurricular activities, and in some cases neglect their families.

However, that trend is rapidly effacing as employees now seek jobs that would give them better work-life balance and incentives that positively impact their wellbeing. 

As you may have rightly deduced, we are considering 2020 Workplace Trend #5, Work-life balance. 

According to Wikipedia, the term ‘work-life balance’ is recent in origin, as it was first used in the UK and US in the late 1970s and 1980s, respectively. Work-life balance is a term commonly used to describe the balance that a working individual needs between time allocated for work and other aspects of life. Areas of life other than work-life can include personal interests, family and social or leisure activities.

It is now apparent to employees that business is a shared value and as such, long-term job security and attractive salaries alone are no longer enough to make them stay in a job, but a flexible work schedule will. Talents now favour jobs that avail them time for family, friends, hobbies, and self-care. 

Giving credence to this point, HR services company Randstad maintains that job seekers of today claim good work-life balance invariably sway their decisions when evaluating an organisation. 

“Finding and keeping good staff can be difficult especially in a tight labour market. Employers who offer work-life balance and flexible work options are likely to have a competitive edge, gain access to a wider recruitment pool, and are more likely to hold onto existing staff.” – Employment New Zealand.

Employers who understand the importance of retaining top talents in their organisations know that one of the ways to do so is to keep them happy and satisfied – this is what has bolstered the work-life balance trend in the workplace. 

In a bid to appeal to suitable candidates, some organisations have begun to explore various strategies for flexible work schedules and related trends like remote work, compressed workweeks and onsite amenities to cater to employee well-being. 

They do this with the understanding that when people see them as being the employer of choice, it will give them a competitive edge for attracting the right candidates who will not only join their organisation but stay and grow with it.

When you make work-life balance part of your organisational policy, you can be sure that productivity will increase and your organisation will never be short of high performing talents.

Investing In Employee Well-being

investing in employee well-being

Two weeks ago, we talked about developing soft skills. We determined that soft skills were a necessity for employees who wished to thrive in the modern workplace.

This week, we will be considering a trend that is very critical to the success of any organisation – investing in employee well-being.  

At a time like this, when everyone needs encouragement and some ray of hope to latch unto in the face of the growing global COVID-19 pandemic that has already claimed thousands of lives, prioritizing the well-being of employees has never been more important.

Employers are meant to play a leading role in the overall health and well-being of their employees since they are usually among the first group of people to feel the impact if something goes wrong with an employee. 

Employers who pay attention to their employees’ well-being have a major advantage over those who don’t because a physically, emotionally and financially healthy and happy workforce will allow them to focus on critical operational decisions that will advance their organisations instead of looking to replace ailing staff regularly, at the detriment of progress.

What exactly is well-being?  

It refers to all the different ways employees feel about themselves – their lives, their jobs, relationships as well as their colleagues. Feelings of wellbeing are largely influenced by individual day-to-day experiences with family, neighbours, vendors, colleagues, and superiors. These negative or positive feelings affect how they carry out their tasks and interact with different teams that make up the workplace. 

Key factors to consider in employee well-being

Nancy Reardon, Chief Strategy and Product Officer at Maestro Health, believes that employers need to look at a more holistic view of their employees’ well-being, including mental/emotional health, stress management, preventative care options and more. 

She highlights three key areas of employee health and provides some well-being strategies leaders can implement to achieve a more thoughtful approach to employee well-being.

Physical Health.

Employees must have the health and energy to be productive and get things done regularly. While this is the most obvious component of employee health and well-being, Reardon says it’s these traditionally healthy choices and actions that help employees avoid chronic conditions that can ultimately affect their emotional and financial health (medical bills/debt).

“Employer-sponsored benefits and wellness programs that drive education and engagement are critical components in driving physical health,” Reardon explains.

“Employees need to understand how and when they should access healthcare to ensure they remain on track to achieving their health,” adds Reardon.

For some employees, it may be hitting 10,000 steps on their Fitbit, while, for others, it may mean seeing a decrease in their A1C levels, to decrease the high risk of developing diabetes.

Financial Health.

Reardon stresses the critical link between physical health and financial health and vice versa, and how one affects the other.

For example, an employee — even one with a moderate salary and benefits – may be unable to afford or access care, healthy food options and more. Similarly, says Reardon, “an employee who can’t cope with financial pressures at home may develop health issues down the line.”

Reardon advises employers to offer their workers access to financial services and resources to help them understand and overcome financial obstacles and empower them to effectively manage their economic lives.  

Emotional Health.

Emotional well-being is impacted by both financial and physical health. Yet not all employees have the capacity to emotionally cope with the ups and downs of life without it impacting their day-to-day work lives.

When crafting their well-being programs, Reardon says employers can offer mental health services like mental health days, Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) and even mindfulness incentives to encourage employees to take care of their emotional health. 

As earlier stated, employers have a crucial role to play in the well-being of their employees. When employers invest in the health and well-being of their employees, they come across as caring, humane and considerate, which serves as an effective motivation to the employees. 

One of the most effective ways for employers to show they care is to make the health and well-being of their employees a priority.