In an age when our reality is becoming more and more like science fiction, it may be time to consider taking advice from unconventional sources. Given the pandemic conditions, many of us are struggling to get used to what we’re being told is our “new normal.” The frustrating fact is, it’s far from normal, and details continue to emerge that make it feel stranger than fiction.
As a professional tasked with maintaining employees’ health and safety, your job is more important than ever. To move forward, we all need to look past our fears and embrace the magical potential that’s present during times of uncertainty. These are truly stranger times, so here’s some wisdom to offer employees, straight from the eerie stories of “Stranger Things.”
Remember What Really Matters
Our world feels a little like The Upside Down right now. It can be easy to get sidetracked by things that have nothing to do with our goals. Learn from the mistakes of Sheriff Hopper (who repeatedly gets off track but finds his way back), and recognize that staying focused is always a worthy goal.
Regular check-ins with co-workers can help employees stay focused and mindful of their team and individual objectives, and so can daily or weekly to-do lists. Having goals often translates into a healthier frame of mind, too, so encourage your employees to redefine their goals and revisit them regularly to ensure they stay on course.
Trust Your Gut
One important lesson that “Stranger Things” has taught is us that intuition is everything. Whether a worker is starting to feel like they’re working too much — or, on the flip side, like they’ve been slacking too much and need to refocus — they’re probably right. Our instincts about what we need are usually spot-on, if only we’ll heed them. (What if Joyce hadn’t trusted her gut about the Christmas lights?)
In stressful times like these, if someone feels the need for extra rest, they should take it. Conversely, if diving into work helps them cope, don’t discourage it. Help your employees avoid learning the hard way by encouraging them to listen to their intuition to take care of themselves.
Beat the High Score
In the face of widespread economic uncertainty, we all need to work toward putting ourselves in the best financial position possible. Sure, many of us would prefer to escape reality and play video games all day like Dustin, Lucas, Mike, and Will; nevertheless, we should take the time to make sure we jack up the scores that matter in real life.
Credit monitory is a task that may seem daunting, especially in the current economic nightmare — but that uncertainty is all the more reason to encourage and empower your employees toward financial responsibility. Provide resources to help them monitor and build their credit, create and stick to a budget, and put aside money for an emergency fund. These measures can help protect their lives and livelihoods, and may afford them a small sense of comfort, as well.
Another great tip we can glean from “Stranger Things” is that being a little geeky is always a plus. Most people may not be technologically inclined enough to build an interdimensional ham radio setup like Dustin, but now is a great time for everyone to learn as much as there can.
Innumerable apps are available that can help employees direct their time, money, energy, and other resources more constructively, both at work and at home. Whether they’re seeking out the best ways to secure sensitive information for a startup or searching for the secrets of a Demodog’s lifespan, encouraging your employees to become more technologically inclined is one of the best things you can do for them.
Keep All Your Bases Covered
As we’ve all seen, things can change drastically in an instant, so we all need to keep things covered on the home front. If your remote employees live in a home that might harbor termites, squirrels, or monsters in the walls — or, even worse, an ancient air-conditioning system that could let them down during the summer heat — encourage them to be extra careful and ensure that every aspect of their homes is covered. One great way to do this is by investing in a home warranty; provide the relevant resources if possible.
If we’ve learned nothing else from “Stranger Things,” we’ve learned that creativity is often key to success. In the same way that Will’s prolific artwork proved instrumental in unlocking the layout of The Upside Down, creativity also can be the key to figuring out ways to make home and work life easier and more enjoyable.
Creativity often results in options nobody had considered before — and more options generally mean more freedom, flexibility, and viability (extra-valuable resources in times of crisis). So do what you can to inspire and encourage creativity in your employees. If they opt to exercise their imaginations in their spare time or use their innovative powers on the job, creativity can improve their lives in a number of ways.
Last but not least, it’s a good idea to regularly set aside time for rest and relaxation, especially now that universal stress levels are higher than ever. Encourage your employees to regularly listen to music, jump on a trampoline, watch their favorite TV series, take a barefoot drive (it’s legal across the country), and anything else that lets them unplug, unwind, recharge, relax, and generally enjoy themselves.
We’re now sharing a reality that most of us could never have envisioned. As a health and safety professional, it’s essential that you encourage and enable your employees to care for their physical and mental well-being. Besides implementing standard safety and health precautions, it’s also important to help create an environment where employees can do their jobs, maintain their sanity, and cherish their lives, friends, family, and memories.
Molly Barnes is an author at Digital Nomad Life.