After 5 months, I am happy to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
My 5 months of grieving coincides with 5 months of COVID-19 upheaval where everyone’s working lives took a turn. It’s a parallel journey that is hard to ignore.
Although we’re not all in the same boat, we have in common one thing: we grieve our “normal.” So, my fellow mourners, let me draw some parallels for you through the stages of grief. If you bear with me, I promise to end on a happy note.
Remember that time, we all thought this was temporary? That things would be back to normal as soon as (insert moving goal post here)? No one made any drastic adjustments. Everyone did the best they could for a couple weeks. Recruitment and placements were business as usual. Work from home was a negotiation point, not a given. Some companies even found it unheard of. And then, it happened. Lock down.
The reality of the situation set in – unemployment skyrocketed, large corporations closed their doors, contract workers were let go, financial ruin was an option for people who normally didn’t give that scenario much thought. There was unified rage pointed at how governments handled the situation, how slowly (or cautiously?) industries/employers handled the changes, the risks of stagnation for promising companies, and a lashing out at leaders, some of whom were experiencing their first crisis.
Essential workers had the luxury of child care in exchange of putting the health of their loved ones on the line while exposed to the virus on a daily basis. Other employees with the privilege of an income had no childcare in sight and a delayed school year. The rage of the struggle grew. It was so easy to focus on the struggle and lose sight of opportunity.
A reminder, dear mourner, that none of these reactions are unexpected, surprising or unreasonable when grieving our normal during COVID-19.
Eventually, a glimmer of opportunity came through. As a society, we started to ask different questions.
How can we adapt? How can we continue to be productive in this new market, and how can we use this new landscape to our advantage?
Different companies took different approaches to address change and move forward. 48.2% of companies in Quebec closed temporarily as mandated by the government, while the rest found new ways to sell and interact with customers. Most adopted work from home policies. Some folded, while others took the challenge to heart. The negotiation between employees and employers continues – who is comfortable with what?
The realization that we have to let go of something so familiar to us is depressing. Regardless of how many other great things are on the other side, life as we knew it was pretty great too. Grieving “normal” during COVID-19 always brought back the best memories from our old reality. After all, we crafted it ourselves and we were comfortable in it. Why can’t we just turn the clock back…?
I get it. As we sift through all these new approaches and ideas, it’s easy to get sucked back into all the things that worked great before. I still get nostalgic, lament and mourn. But, not as often as I used to.
I know that after every storm there comes a rainbow.
I firmly believe that in recruitment and the HR function, we are in this stage today.
After 5 months, working the stages of grief like clockwork, I hear optimism in the market. Leaders, operations, employers and employees have accepted and adopted new ways of working. The literature around change is more positive and focused on how we can improve and further develop our digital footprints, our behaviours and etiquette to maximize the personal value we bring to the table.
Accepting alternative practices and creatively implementing new ones to create a safe work environment for employees is at the top of every employer’s mind. For some, this may mean holding on to remote work a while longer, for others, it may mean changing their entire business model!
I know one thing for certain – this is a new beginning. We are at a crossroads where we design and create our future. It’s only going to be as amazing as we envision it.
I invite you to join me on the other side of grief – opportunity. I can support your vision of the future by helping you focus on your career path, reposition you, pivot your skills and counsel you on the options available to you today. If you need someone in your corner to point you in the right direction and help you down that path, I’m only a call (or email) away.
Let’s create a future we can be proud of together.