Business Clinic


LISA GILLESPIEHead of Learning and Development Make UK Lisa has been in the HR industry for 25 years in a number of roles. She holds qualifications in law, a post-graduate diploma in HRM, philosophy, psychology and creative writing. In addition she qualified as a practitioner in PRINCE 2 and neurolinguistic programming. |

People Power

I’VE written in the last couple of months about how well I was coping with lockdown and social distancing but this month I’m going to hold my hands up - despite my optimism, I am really noticing this new reality getting to me and other well-balanced folk that I know.

Today I realised isolation, social-distance and being cooped up at home including when I’m working really has had an impact. I noticed that we may be emerging a little socially awkward, irritable and unable to cope very well with groups; could we have lost our normal social graces and tolerance for others during lockdown?

I started wondering about this when I took the day off to have a socially distanced picnic with some close friends who I haven’t seen in person for three months. It all started off really well but within an hour I found myself in a stand-off situation with

a good friend, debating whether glass is a super-cooled liquid or an amorphous solid, I mean who cares? The debate however went on for at least 10 minutes, only abating when my friend and I squared up with our physics qualifications but it left me wondering; we had been so desperate to see each other after a long hiatus, why get embroiled in a heated discussion about something so ridiculous?

I came to the conclusion that everyone, even me – the most sociable person in the North West of England, probably needs a period of re-adaptation to dealing with others; and I’m not just talking socially.

HR professionals have had a rough ride coping with new legislation and adapting their workforces to survive in post- pandemic conditions but there is more to come. None of us have come through this entirely mentally unscathed and we are all probably a little bit feral as we emerge.

Back in March we saw media reports of some not-too-nice treatment of key workers during the early stages of the lockdown, fighting in supermarkets and more recently riots and illegal raves. After the initial hysteria we all need to calm down a bit and work out how to reintegrate into our environments where right now we can’t pat each other on the back or hug when we greet each other. And for me, not being able to help a friend’s child jump off a wall today even


though I was afraid that she was going to fall and break an arm or something, felt super-strange.

It’s all terribly weird. It’s slightly dehumanising. What has happened to us?

When I studied psychology, before moving into law and HR, I learned about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow identified five levels of need that must be satisfied for humans to reach their full potential. These are usually depicted as a pyramid with the most basic needs for our existence at the bottom level; these are the fundamentals such as breathing, food, warmth and reproduction- fulfilling our psychological needs for survival. The next level is safety and includes all those things in life many of us may have taken for granted until the pandemic – health, employment, social stability, resources (think toilet roll!). The third level is the one which has probably

Could we

have lost our normal social graces and tolerance for others during lockdown?"

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