been almost entirely removed from many during lockdown – friendship, family, intimacy, belonging… the impact of this process we have been through will therefore be felt on a deep level by most of us.

The first few weeks of lockdown meant we had to think about so many things we had taken for granted. Even food shopping had to be executed with military precision.

The Government's response to the pandemic could only ever really meet some of the financial and immediate safety practicalities. Getting back to work will be complex.

For businesses as they adjust environments to protect staff, they also need to consider the impact the experience we all have just been through will have on the mental health of their staff. Whilst they are playing

will see many industries contract as the Job Retention Scheme winds down but others industries will grow, new jobs will be created and new skills will need to be developed. Being conscious of the personal impact on each individual goes a long way towards helping them adjust and so even though we can now go to shops and buy un-rationed toilet roll we are a long way off having all of those elements that make up our hierarchy of needs being met.

All of this is important because the top levels in Maslow’s hierarchy – self-esteem, confidence, achievement, and respect for and by others, followed by self- actualisation at the top of the pyramid, Maslow believed, make us the humans we should be. Self-actualisation encompasses morality, creativity, lack of prejudice, problem-solving and spontaneity, wow, spontaneity, remember that? The joy of being able to back-track in the supermarket when you get to the wine aisle and realise you forgot to pick up the fresh garlic, the whole reason you went shopping.

Maslow said that the failure to have needs met at one or more stages of the hierarchy could lead to illness, particularly psychiatric illness or mental health issues. Individuals whose physiological needs are not met can become extremely ill.

their part in getting the economy back on its feet they are also part of the cure for a population which has been tested to the extreme of its resilience. Whether we are HR professionals, managers, employees, customers or suppliers to industries we need to heighten our awareness of those around us so recently starved of the fundamental needs of every human being and be conscious that everyone may be in a bit of a delicate state.

This is where the power of people really matters. I am heartened by the compassion and resilience of the companies I have been supporting and advising throughout the COVID-19 nightmare. Many are having to make difficult decisions about redundancies, temporary reductions in pay and site closures. HR has a huge part to play in transitioning these businesses and people into a more stable state. We

I’m writing this whilst on a ferry to Belfast to see family I haven’t seen in six months. I am happy, but can anyone tell with my mouth covered by a mask? My message to everyone?

There are tough times ahead. We are on a journey and everyone will travel at a pace with which they are comfortable. Many will need help and support to readjust whether that be outplacement to help find work or simply encouragement as they make significant changes in their lives.

Be kind, be compassionate and be positive; and if you have to wear a mask, make sure you smile with your eyes.


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