Here we are with what we thought would "just be" the issues related to our changing workplace due to the pandemic and all of the regulations that we are faced with as we manage our workforce. We know that many are for and many against the rules that we are required to enforce. That alone will cause unrest in the workplace. Now we have the issue of social unrest with so many on completely opposite "sides" of the issues related to racial bias. How terriby sad that in 2020 we are facing this as an issue. Have we not learned to respect, appreciate and value life no matter who we are or what we look like? Have we lost our ability to just appreciate our differences as very important for all of us to continue to grow, learning from one another? Why are we talking about one's race in 2020?
I learned that people are people and all need the same level of respect. I am grateful for such an upbringing for sure. But what I find is that there are so many people who seamingly haven't had the benefit of such an experience in understanding and valuing each and every human being. It is hard to understand some who cannot see that life in and of itself is intended with purpose and must be valued and respected.
That being said, I am a realist and fully understand that we are in a crisis in our ability to see one another in the manner we need to. I believe this is not the majority of us, but it is a loud group that is expressing such hate and anger. So we are likely going to have a mix in the workplace.
What can we do? How can we be proactive? Well, as I always say, we need to enforce a work culture of respect. We need to enforce rules related to fair and equitable treatment of all. We need to discipline those who cannot understand this concept. I am a huge proponent of removing people who are simply toxic to a work environment. Behaviors are more important than technical skills we have learned over the years and if one cannot respect everyone, they need not have the privilege of working for a company/organization who does value all.
Training is important as a reminder of the legal ramifications for inappropriate and destructive behaviors. Whether it be anti harassment, anti discrimination, respect in the workplace, whistleblower, workplace violence prevention and others that give voice to the voiceless addressing ways they can express their concerns. No one should feel powerless and stay working in an environment that makes them feel "less than".
I am big on focusing on those who feel they aren't being heard. I personally provide a voice for such individuals through my line of work. It is my privilege to make voices who feel unheard, louder and finding solutions to improve work situations no matter what the issue may be.
This climate is all new to most of us. We are not used to the drama, noise and challenges we now have. We are more distant socially due to the pandemic which naturally distances relationships. It is harder to build and improve upon relationships as a result. BUT we do and I am one who facilitates just this through coaching and conflict resolution. It is imperative we learn to appreciate how we think and what makes us make decisions we do. That is the first part of respect and valuing one's perspective in life. That is a first step in improving in our ability to see the world differently.
We are charged to create a "safe place" for our staff. We need to be supportive, have each other's backs and become comfortable with expressing concerns as they arise. We all have to assume responsibility for making the sitaution better in an organization, one person at a time. We are responsible for our own actions and how we choose to perceive our environment. How you choose to express yourself as a citizen should be outside of the work environment. Politics and highly controversial topics have no place in the workplace. The goal at work is to work. The goal as a team is to assist on another. Our personal opinions are not important if unrelated to our work at hand.
Perhaps we need to have a written agreement in place that each employee signs that expresses their committment to a friendly, respectful, inclusive environment. This document would have an expression for committing to being professional, responsible and forgive those who may have offended them. This may seem unnecessary but we do have to be sure we make behavior in the workplace a priority in order to have a work environment that fosters positive productivity and team work. One that fosters an openness.
Conflict resolution when issues are small is key. Do NOT ignore conflict!
As with any of your employee related concerns and workplace dynamics, I am here to help you through. Reach out!