We’re in the thick of it.
Nearly a quarter of employees in the UK are currently on furlough (The Guardian, 4 May) and, according to a survey by Campaign, more than a quarter of agencies are expecting to make redundancies.
It certainly feels that while most of us have adjusted to remote working, or got our heads round furlough, many are now thinking about what the future means for them at a personal and practical level.
With so much uncertainty and things changing week by week, the control and security that many of us crave is gone, and that can lead to anxiety and fear of what the future may bring.
- Will I be made redundant?
- What if I lose a client?
- Will I have to take a job I don’t want to do?
- What happens if I get sick?
- Will I have childcare?
- Will I be able to pay my rent / mortgage?
Fear is a powerful and all-encompassing emotion.
These thoughts can buzz around your head and grow and grow. I often see people get emotional when they first tap into these thoughts – then we talk about it, kick it around, and that emotion lifts. Nothing has practically changed apart from confronting a challenging thought and getting it out into the open.
When people are able to articulate their fears out loud, in a safe space, it serves as an emotional release, and helps people to take a more objective, productive view.
The way to deal with fear is not to get rid of it but to face it and own it.
First and foremost, talk about it with someone you trust. The ideas below can be used alone but are most effective when they live and breathe in conversation with others.
1. Name your fear
Take time to examine your fears. Saying them out loud or writing them down, can help you focus more clearly and fear less than if those thoughts stay stuck in your head
- I’m scared I could be made redundant.
- I’m worried we won’t make our forecast.
- I’m nervous I may have to take a job I don’t want to do.
- I’m worried about whether I can pay my rent or mortgage.
2. Get your worries and the associated risks out on the table.
- What are the little and big things that you are afraid of?
- What’s the worst case?
- What else could happen?
3. Is there anything you can do now to prepare for those eventualities or make you feel more comfortable?
4. What practical action can you take?
- Are there any conversations you can start?
- Who can help you?
- What will you do next?
It can be powerful to do this together as a small group, as long as everyone there feels safe to share their own thinking. Hearing other people’s fears, and how they plan to address them, can be a great source of reassurance and inspiration.
Or you might find it easier to approach as a one-to-one conversation with a manager, mentor, colleague or friend.
If you find yourself in one of these conversations, helping someone externalise and name their fears is very powerful – you don’t have to give them a solution or answer. As a manager, don’t shy away from these conversations if you fear someone may ask you a question you aren’t able to answer – say about redundancy or job security. People don’t expect you to have all the solutions – listening and coaching someone through their fear is an invaluable support.
If any of this rings a chord, or you need further support, you may find NABS helpful.