Ontario Independent

Friday, January 27, 2023

The Lesser Horseman

There are four horsemen mentioned in the Bible, and of these, if we’re being honest, pre-2020, the one responsible for disease seemed to have met its match. Disease used to claim a lot more of us in richer, more developed countries. But it still is a leading cause of death for much of the third world, and hundreds of years ago, disease claimed so many urban dwellers that the population of the largest cities in the world could only be maintained by a steady influx of immigration.

Looking back, most of us are removed from this, and even more recent epidemics aren’t featured in standard history textbooks. How many of us before this pandemic could recall hearing about the Yellow Fever epidemic that ravaged Memphis, or the Spanish Flu that killed somewhere between 50-100 million throughout the world. During the Yellow Fever and the Spanish Flu epidemics, death was far more visible, and so was what happened to you along the way.  There’s probably good reason textbooks don’t devote much space to these history-altering pandemics. It’s just too awful to think about, and when it comes to defining moments of an entire people, we’d rather focus on things under our control. It’s easy to ignore something no one really wants to talk about.

This pandemic has been far less visible, and aside from the satellite images of mass graves and the refrigerator trucks to house the bodies, most of us don’t have to see what has happened to well over 550,000 Americans and counting. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t affected a lot of us in more ways than we’re aware of.

Some symptoms of trauma include Feelings of feelings of fear, anger, sadness, worry, numbness, or frustration, changes in appetite or activity levels, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, sleep problems, headaches, stomach problems, and more. And as more of the business community races to embrace a post-pandemic reality, and isn’t in the mood to hear more bad news, should be cautious. Even if everyone’s excited to return to the office, they might not be back to their old selves.

This change could manifest in any number of ways, and employers should be mindful that even though for the most part, many of us returning will look and act normal, we’ve all been through a historical event. And even if no one died from it, your staff members probably know someone who did, or know someone who was scared they were going to. At the very least, the fabric of our lives has been unraveled, and many of us may appear a little unfocused, a little less productive, and a little more irritated than was normal, at least for a while.

Many of us are still working from home, and expect to be doing so throughout much of the summer as variants and successful vaccination rates are both climbing. Add to the list a potential forced return to the office, and it’s no wonder that many of us are feeling anxious. The time to offer your employees some help reducing stress and doing a little bit of self care is now.

While real estate brokerages are used to their teams operating remotely, Kris Lindahl, CEO of Kris Lindahl Real Estate, instituted Mindfulness Mondays throughout March, and offered the services of a professional mindfulness coach for his entire staff. “It’s very important to me that our company takes care of each other, and that we still have a sense of togetherness. It seemed like the least we could do,” Lindahl explains.

Much of his staff took him up on it, and were grateful for the offer. Since then, his realtors have even been using it to lure fellow realtors from competing brokerages. In an industry where talent poaching is notoriously common, little gestures like these get talked about, and are more attractive than many employers think. “People want to feel cared about, they want to feel like they’re not just a number somewhere, and that loyalty goes both ways,” Lindahl concludes.”

The new normal is coming, but there will be a very large learning curve and reentry period. Companies who take this into account, and offer real support and resources to their staff, will reaffirm the loyalty and culture that helped get everyone through this difficult time. Those who don’t may soon be seeing a horse of a different color.

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