OPINION

The 'new normal' is really anything but

The 'new normal' is really anything but

IT has become a universal term defining the hope that we will return to a pre-COVID-19 existence, or at least a sense of normality. However, for workplaces and their employees, the truth is that we must prepare not for a "new normal" but for continued unpredictability and a new, abnormal life.

So, how do we traverse this new shifting landscape? Well we can look to the fundamental workplace practices of gaining trust, building and maintaining resilience, openly communicating and supporting one another.

At AccessEAP, one of Australia's leading employee assistance programs, we provide workplaces with advice and support for mental wellbeing every day.

Here's our advice on how to take inspiration from workplace psychology to thrive in the new abnormal.

With one in five Australians already vulnerable to mental health issues, a good place to start is by looking at how you can understand and support your team and family, while taking accountability for your own and their resilience. This behaviour starts with you. It's important to look after your own psychological health and acknowledge that you won't be able to please all of the people all of the time. However, focusing on physical and mental wellbeing, while earning trust and communicating clearly will empower everyone to better manage the abnormalities of modern life.

At the workplace and at home, clear communication is key. Research on building trust with stakeholders found that 42 per cent of CEOs believed it was important to communicate regularly and 35 per cent that leaders should be transparent and honest.

So, if CEOs who look after the mental health of entire workforces think communication is key. Then it will probably work for you. It's important to calmly and confidentially provide clarity to those around you on how you are coping and what you need and why. There's an abnormal number of competing priorities to staying afloat in these turbulent times, so it's easy as an employee and especially as a leader, to become siloed and not gather feedback or listen. This fractious period has highlighted just how important it is to connect with your peers to understand that you are not alone and to learn from each other.

We can all learn from businesses and by taking a leaf out of their book to build trust and focusing on people, we can better to cope with the constant changes of "the new abnormal" that will unfold in the coming months and years.

Sally Kirkright is chief executive of AccessEAP.