People Need People

Siobhan Clarke

While having a look though Linked In this morning (Procrastination? Me?) I came across a post describing a first day back in the office which listed the things the author felt she’d learned by going back into the workplace.

And the first thing she listed was ‘People need People’, which really resonated with me.

As a HR consultant I’ve been working with my clients over lockdown, restrictions lifting, new normal, restrictions coming back in and new, new normal and I am sure there will be more to come.

During the hours of conversation about how to keep their people safe, how to keep the business on its feet, how to make sure everyone is all right, and how to have some really hard conversations. It has been the relationships that that have made the difference every single time.

Those relationships are deeper than performance and attendance, more complex than ‘did they hit their targets’.

They are relationships grown over time that mean my clients know what the situation is for their teams; are they’re rattling round a house with only the cats for company? or dealing with a family of five and doing zoom calls from a corner of the garage on a Wi-Fi connection that’s giving up the ghost? do they have a support network? or are they feeling isolated and overwhelmed? have they seen anyone in the flesh? Have they had a hug in the last six months? How is their mental and emotional health holding up?

And this stuff is important. Because none of us are making it through this year unchanged, most of us have had days or weeks that felt bleak, some of us will have really struggled, some of us will be tanking.

“We’re all just…weary”, tired of zoom, tired of working in the spare room, tired of Groundhog Day, tired of every plan getting cancelled or postponed, tired of juggling it all.

Work is not just about getting paid and going to the office isn’t just so your boss can make sure you’re not messing about on Instagram all day. Humans need interaction, we need emotional connection. When we get it, when we feel safe, part of a group, when we belong, we relax, and we thrive.

That is what we’ve all been cut off from for months, and that’s why we’re tired and sad, and overwhelmed and lonely. And, if you want to be bottom line about it, people who are tanking don’t do great work.

So, just all pile back into the office?

Well no, we’ve learned that we can do most of our jobs from home, and that the flexibility that gives us is invaluable, especially if you have any kind of caring responsibility. So, a mix, a blend of WFH and office working, using bubbles, restricting how many are in the office together, taking all the necessary precautions, talking to your people about what they’re ok with.

It is a conversation we need to start having. Because People need People.

Clarke HR Consulting works with Independents and SME’s providing outsourced HR support and people development. If you want to have a conversation about getting the people stuff right, get in touch.