ROI
A Positive Message for Surviving a Pandemic
If ever employees deserved a big “Thank You,” now is it.
The world has been through the ringer over the past 18 months. Pandemics have a way of shaking things up in ways no one could possibly imagine. It’s sort of like being tossed into the wash cycle of a washing machine, being soaked from every possible direction, only to be rewarded by needing to survive the spin cycle! Covid-19 has brought nothing less. Regrettably, as summer turns to autumn, thanks to the Delta variant the end of this pandemic looks nowhere near.

For too many the disease itself has been devastating, from loss of life to the scores of friends, family and colleagues who fell seriously ill. No words can be said to ease the pain for those who have lost loved ones. For many others, the disease has cost them employment and caused dramatic changes in day-to-day lifestyles. For some, total despair. Indeed, the impact of Covid still can be seen and felt across the globe.

In some industries the impact of Covid has brought a complete change in the cadence of daily life. Rather than adults heading out the door each morning to go to an office to work, the work has moved into their home much like a loved (but unliked) distant relative. Ditto children: Rather than heading to school each day to learn in a classroom and play with friends, they have been confined to home. Parents, children, coworkers and teachers all inhabit limited space and fight for enough bandwidth to handle the seemingly never-ending virtual meetings and lessons. This new Covid paradigm, while enabling people to remain in a safe environment, has still caused displacement, inconvenience, and for many levied an emotional toll.

Within manufacturing the impact is different. Many positions require being in the company facility to perform the job at hand. Day-to-day life for those employees may on the surface appear “normal.” Under the veneer, however, lay multitudes of issues. Many have children at home rather than at school, creating childcare issues. Many more may be showing up at the company facility, but with social distancing must perform their job under suboptimal conditions to ensure the work environment remains safe. And everyone is expected to deliver the same volume and quality of work regardless of where it is performed.

A pandemic-complicated phenomenon all businesses are experiencing is finding employees. Many displaced workers either lack the qualifications to change careers or prefer to wait to return to their pre-Covid jobs. Some who want to work are concerned about entering a dense workplace for fear of the risk of catching Covid. We are left with fewer staff, most working in socially distanced, nontraditional or at-home environments, trying to get more work done to meet the demands of employers and customers.

If ever employees deserved a big “Thank You” for dedication, flexibility and determination, now is the time. If ever employees needed the – ahem – shot in the arm of hearing that “Thank You” from their company, employer and coworkers in appreciation of the sacrifices and flexibility that pandemic life has required of all, now is the time!

Under normal conditions it is all too easy to get wrapped around the task at hand or project of the moment and forget the little things. When a seismic event unfolds, distracting and upheaving the normal cadence of work – and home – life, it becomes even harder, but much more important, to remember all those around you who are making sacrifices and deserve – and need – to hear they have not been forgotten and are much appreciated.

As executives and managers grapple with how, or if, to return businesses to a semblance of normal, part of that effort should include thanking all who have adapted to the everchanging pandemic environment. Especially as it appears returning to that normal may get postponed and require further sacrifice and flexibility, appreciation may be the most important ingredient to sustain the months ahead. Executives and managers, now is the time to voice sincere appreciation to all those who are working in such unprecedented times.

And while thanking each and every employee, make sure to give a big shout-out to their families. The children who have experienced school like none of their parents’ generation could ever have conceived; the spouse or partner who has shared space at home to work while simultaneously attending to family; the parents, siblings and grandparents who have all been mustered to service to help all do what they need to do to enable parents to work, children to learn and everyone, together, to stay sane and healthy together.

Extraordinary times have required extraordinary efforts by all. Taking positive action and reacting to the unknown of a pandemic has taken its toll on everyone. Despite – or maybe because of – everyone’s extraordinary efforts, economies have chugged along, and the technologies our industry does best continue to enable new and exciting products. All this could not have happened without people demonstrating flexibility, tenacity and creativity. Thank you all for your effort! No matter how the coming months unfold, remember to thank those around you who are pulling more than their weight. Together we will eventually lick this pandemic.

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Peter Bigelow
is president and CEO of IMI Inc.; pbigelow@imipcb.com. His column appears monthly.