The past year was rife with sources of stress and grief.
The COVID-19 pandemic stole lives and livelihood, hampered career and education trajectories, shuttered businesses and upended routines. The killing of George Floyd and months of protests that followed brought new attention to 400 years of structural racism. A presidential election strained relationships and furthered divisiveness.
Virtually everyone experienced the weight of these stressors, even if it was simply a loss of normalcy.
“There’s been a lot of grief, there’s been a lot of fear, there’s been a lot of miscommunication,” said Patty Starr,
president and CEO of Health Action Council (HAC), a nonprofit representing midsize to large employers that
aims to enhance human and economic health. “And that’s not going away just because someone shows
back up in the office or that their project changes. That’s still there until that individual has an opportunity to actually process through what they’re feeling and what those emotions are."
Organizations have a responsibility to show empathy and provide tools and resources for employees dealing with the pain of the past year without dwelling on it, she said.
After an extraordinarily challenging year, the light at the end of the pandemic grows brighter, and a new normal becomes bit clearer with every vaccine administered.
Managing excitement for this alongside the lingering fear and grief, while navigating a transition to a post-vaccinated world, is a delicate balance.
“It seems like it’s going to be a dance that we’re all going to have to learn, and it’s a new dance that nobody really has actually even taught us yet,” said David deBardelaben-Phillips, operations leader at HAC and founder and president of the private practice Energetic Awakenings, a coaching, counseling and consulting firm. “So it’s going to be a collaborative learning process.”
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For more information on supporting employees while weathering the COVID-19 storm, download our Reboarding 1: Learning from the Past to Prepare for the Future and Reboarding 2: Understanding the Wiring of the Human Brain and Moving Forward. Additionally, keep an eye on our upcoming events page for pandemic-related webinars.