Connecting Business – Growing Opportunities

Supporting People to Adapt to the 'New Normal'

  • ‘Can I work from home three days a week?’

  • ‘I’m worried I’ll catch Coronavirus by touching something in the office’

  • ‘What if I go to a client meeting and they are not observing social distancing?’

  • ‘Is my job secure?’

  • ‘How to I stay safe and keep my family safe?’

People have a lot of questions at the moment, and the answers are not always clear. Many organisations are facing the challenges of motivating and reassuring staff at a time when the world of work is facing significant changes. 


As lockdowns tentatively start to ease, some people are returning from furlough and others are contemplating how they will resume at least some face-to-face activity.


How can we support our people, our colleagues and ourselves through the weeks and months ahead? This article provides some suggested strategies for supporting people at any time, and particularly at challenging times like this. 

1.      Communicate clearly and often

It’s difficult to over communicate these days. Reaching out to people individually or in teams, is a simple thing to do but immensely powerful. Most great leaders are great communicators. A few tips to think about when communicating with your people:

  • W.I.I.F.M.  Good communications always answer the key question for staff – what’s in it for me (W.I.I.F.M.).  Think about why they should make the time to engage with the messages.Clarity and authenticity are key if you want people to buy into your message.
  • Listen. For many work is evolving into something different. As people start to return to work in the ‘new normal’ (whatever that will be!), it’s important to listen to any concerns and provide reassurance where possible. Simply asking ‘how do you feel?’ can make a big difference. If people are feeling anxious it is better to acknowledge rather than dismiss it, and then seek ways to explore it and find solutions together.
  • Talk.  We all need someone we can trust to talk to.  Senior leaders and business owners are no exception, but it can be difficult to open up.  Our networks are important at a time like this.  Talking to a trusted colleague or friend and acknowledging our own concerns will build our resilience and enable us to support others better.

2.      Instil a sense of purpose and value

People and organisations need purpose. A strong sense of purpose helps to put events into perspective, to focus things that are important, to think about the difference we are making and to move forward.

  • People need purpose. Martin Seligman, the guru of Positive Psychology, believes that we find fulfilment by working to our strengths for a purpose greater than ourselves.  If we are clear on what we are doing and why that matters, this builds confidence and resilience. 

  • ·       Organisations need purpose. This is a great time to ensure you are clear on the core purpose of your organisation.  What is the job that your customers or clients need you to do? How do you make an impact on the world?  As Simon Sinek says

‘what’s your why?”

Discussing this with your staff and colleagues can help anchor your people and lower the volume on their insecurities. (Simon’s
Ted Talk from 2009 has over 50 million views and is equally relevant today).

  • Demonstrate that you value your people and colleagues.Studies have shown that people who feel valued are more engaged and more productive at work. Focussing on key strengths and achievements and reminding people why they are important to the organisation will help to dispel anxiety and get them focussed on doing a great job.


3.      Coach and support your people and colleagues

Adopting a coaching mindset, whereby you help people to learn and grow, has a big impact on engagement, wellbeing and progression. This is all about open conversations with a focus on developing, encouraging and empowering people. Some examples of good coaching points to discuss with people at this time of crisis could include:


  • Focus on the things you can control. People often worry about the things they can’t control, this builds anxiety and stress.  Focussing on what you can control will build more confidence and help people to be more positive  (eg if someone is worrying about the risk of catching the virus at work, focus on what they can control within their environment).
  •  Nurture a Growth Mindset. Carol Dweck talks about how we can adopt a growth mindset (Mindset: Changing the way you think to fulfil your potential by Carol Dweck)

The premise behind the Growth Mindset is that everyone can change and grow through effort and experience. Creating a learning culture where people are encouraged to embrace rather than avoid challenge will increase achievement. A positive mindset combined with a work ethic is a recipe for success. It’s the power of ‘not yet’ – the difference between

‘I’m no good at this’


‘ I’m not good at this YET’


  • Re-boarding your staff. If you’ve had staff at home who are returning to the office, put the same effort into re-boarding them that you would into on-boarding a new member of staff.  They will expect things to be different – so invest some time to discuss with them the core purpose of your work, the key priorities, what’s expected from them and what support is available. And importantly, discuss their goals and dreams and how you can support them.  Sometimes a crisis provides a great opportunity for people to show what they can do.

4.      Know the rules! 

It sounds obvious, but it’s essential to be on top of the current guidance and advice.  Managers and business owners must be up to date with the guidance and clear how your organisation is complying.  This needs to be communicated clearly and confidently to staff. 

There is lots of support out there such as that published by ACAS. We won’t go into the details here but make sure you understand the changing landscape as it applies to your business.

CIPD urges employers to apply three rules before bringing staff back into the workplace (but remember the guidance will continue to evolve)

  • Is it essential? If people can continue to work from home they should continue to do
  • Is it sufficiently safe?
  • Is it mutually agreed?

5.      Be kind

Kindness is often underrated, but is powerful to both the giver and receiver. This is a time to be compassionate, to give back and to show kindness.This does not mean you ignore your organisational goals or diminish your work ethic. Kindness can sit alongside this.It’s nothing new, Aristotle said:

“It is the characteristic of the magnanimous man to ask no favour but to be ready to do kindness to others.”


If you’d like to discuss any of these ideas further, or if Brigid can support you or your teams, please contact

Causeway is hosting a free online event at 4pm on Tuesday 16 June on Preparing yourself and Your Team for the 'New Normal' - Register for this webinar today! 

Author: Brigid Whoriskey

Date Published:

< Article List

Share This:

Total Pages:
Total Results:
Page Start:
Page Result #:


Contact Us




No Robots:

This form collects and sends the information supplied to Causeway. You can read our privacy policy for full details on how we protect and manage your data.
  I consent to having Causeway collect the above details.