Dealing with a global pandemic was an unprecedented turn of events this past year. Many businesses have had to uproot their entire strategy and make adjustments to accommodate safety regulations and restrictions.

One adjustment many businesses have had to make is moving their operations from in-office to remote operations. As a result, many employees have spent some, if not all, their time working at home for almost a year.

Now that restrictions are lifting, businesses are bringing workers back into the office with the hope to return to some sense of normalcy. Well, what we used to consider normal is going to be really unfamiliar to many people. As a result, stress levels will rise as they transition from at-home to in-office procedures.

As stress levels increase, employees may act out and workplace drama may begin to brew.

This is because people may be used to working in quiet, isolated environments and being confined to their homes. Then to come back to the bustling sounds of the office where they are privy to casual conversations, music, and the sound of tapping pencils. All of these can be a trigger that may cause conflict between employees.

Visible signs of what this could look like:

  • Disengaged Employees
  • Resignations
  • Absenteeism
  • Lack of growth and productivity

This can cost your business big money, as the time that employees spend dealing with workplace drama is wasting valuable work time.

“$359 billion in paid hours, according to one study. That’s the total price of the 2.8 hours per week U.S. employees spend dealing with workplace conflict” (Haaff, 2017).

Businesses have suffered so much due to the pandemic, the last thing they need is to be taken down from the inside because of poor team dynamics.

If you want to minimize workplace rifts, take a strong lead by focusing on these key performance enhancers:

  • Set clear rules of engagement – Define what the appropriate behaviors should be for management and employees during company time and on company property.
  • Lead by example – Executives and team leaders must model the behavior they desire. Practice respect for everyone in the organization always, at all levels
  • Reward them – Reward team members modeling the right behavior.
  • Be consistent with consequences – Hold managers as accountable as you would employees and vice versa. Inconsistencies give the illusion that some behaviors are acceptable.
  • Be proactive – Don’t engage, pass, or fuel destructive discourse, rumors, or gossip. Stop it cold.
  • Define a hierarchy – Have a resolution hierarchy clearly defined so that team members understand conflict resolution is expected to be handled at all levels.
  • Follow the chain-of-command – Encourage everyone to follow the chain of command and talk to the proper people to address their issues.
  • Encourage communication – Allow for venting and feedback if it remains positive and constructive.
  • Be perceptive – Be aware of the unseen drama and practice good management by wandering around to keep a pulse on the performance.

 

New Rules for the Workplace

Do you remember at the beginning of the COVID pandemic when many made new sets of rules for the workplace such as, wash your hands, practice social distancing, wear your mask? Additionally, when you moved remotely, there were new guidelines to accommodate the change.

Now it would be a good time to enforce new rules that ease the transition back to the office. Rules such as, ‘Respect your neighbor, keep the volume down’ or ‘Use your inside voice please’ or “Meeting in progress”. These may be old rules, but now is the time to re-emphasize them.

This is a stressful time for everyone, especially the business owner, but building a dynamic and effective team requires focus and dedication. Consider working with a certified professional business coach who can help you work through these challenges and ensure you still achieve your team goals.