3 Ways to Change the Message in a Bottle

Kathy Rapp Change, Change Management, Communication, Corporate America, COVID-19, Culture, Current Affairs, Employee Communications, Employee Engagement, Engagement and Satisfaction, HR, Kathy Rapp, Leadership, Managing People, Retention, Talent Strategy, wellness

Just a castaway, an island lost at sea, oh

Another lonely day, no one here but me, oh

More loneliness than any man could bear

Rescue me before I fall into despair, oh

These are the intro lyrics to “Message in a Bottle” by The Police. It’s about being alone on an island and sending a message in a bottle seeking love. Much later, without response, the castaway is in a deep despair assuming he is destined to be alone.

Ever wonder what the message in the bottle said?

I heard this song and my mind went to the conversations happening in my community and across corporate America. The feelings of being cast off, the loneliness, the despair – it’s a reality for many.

The conversations are about concern for the well-being of employees due to the pandemic, economic and social unrest, the return or not to offices, more lockdowns causing financial whiplash, risk of additional RIFs, and the emotional stress of loss, uncertainty and overall anxiety.

And it’s only July.

HR leaders have been shouldering more than most, which is leading to burnout. It could be a short-term funk because you’re coming down from the height of crisis management. Or worse, a more protracted roller-coaster ride that seemingly never ends and all you feel is the saliva beginning to pool in the back of your throat.

How are you dealing with the funk or impending gut-wrenching hurl?

How are you changing or helping your organization change their message in the bottle to get out of burnout mode?

Understanding and accepting that 100% productivity is not achievable.

This is not business as usual; most companies will experience pain, and no one can promise everything is going to be fine. Vocalizing that fact and recognizing that you, and your team, need grace is important. Working at home could mean a 7am or a 9:30am start. Not everyone will “get dressed” for a video call, so a ball cap or no makeup is ok.

Talk about emotions.

Psychological safety is just as important as physical safety right now. We are all feeling loss, grief and sadness. Grief experts have stated that acknowledging and addressing loss helps people build resilience. The emotional toll of the pandemic along with social unrest is real. And it’s appropriate to talk about it in the “workplace”. HR needs to lead this charge together with the CEO.

Find your “why”.

Simon Sinek speaks to your “why” being “the one constant that will guide you toward fulfillment in your work and life”. Simply stated, it’s why you do what you do.

During this time of barriers, setbacks, and unknowns is when you need to have hold of your “why”. Getting to the otherside of not physically being with people, weekdays bleeding into weekends, slow or no business is all about the depth of your personal “why” – so now is the time to find it or redefine it.

Finally, remember you are not alone, and communication (bottle or Zoom) remains critical.

Walked out this morning, I don’t believe what I saw

A hundred billion bottles washed up on the shore

Seems I’m not alone in being alone

A hundred billion castaways looking for a home