If travel is a race, think of your team as a sports car making a pit stop for a tune-up. Re-fuel and tighten all your loose screws, so when the light goes green, you’re good to go.

The pandemic has caused us a lot of stress but that doesn’t stop us from putting measures in place now that will benefit us later. It’s important to name and shame the stressors draining our energy in order to tackle them head-on. Don’t run away, we don’t mean to depress you, and we have some great tips to help you neutralise the nasties and recharge your batteries.

Where has all the Energy Gone?

We loop in and out of eustress (good stress that motivates) and distress (evil stress that negatively impacts health and productivity), trying to navigate tough trading conditions. Now, let’s call out these nasties:

Down the Disconnect Drain

After a year of lockdown and remote working, many of us are experiencing social withdrawal. Informal chats by the watercooler, now a distant, fond memory, were opportunities for information exchange that also made us feel connected as team members, in the same boat. The disconnect causes anxiety or depression at worst, and at least, loss of interest.

Uncertainty lingers: about which destinations are open, what the rules and regulations are, and which markets are open to travel (and how). Conditions are constantly changing.

There’s stiff competition for small, tentative and cautious travel demand peeping out from its burrow like a meerkat checking if it’s safe for the clan to emerge. It’s hard to see where to focus or what to compete for.

When individuals feel disengaged from the job at hand, from the team, and from whatever is going on out there, the resulting stress holds productivity to ransom.

Multitasking Mania

Your staff numbers are reduced and your resources stretched thin. The team left holding the fort is overwhelmed by the multitude of tasks and processes that would be manageable under normal circumstances.

The goal posts are shifting – the old routines and systems don’t match the changing requirements. There’s confusion about priorities (or there are simply too many to address at once).

Your daily hustle becomes a fight against split focus and diluted energy, and your efforts feel ineffective and unproductive.

Future Unknown

Right now, forward planning is like looking down a tunnel and seeing a light glimmering in the distance: is it the end of the tunnel or an oncoming train? Trying to play out future scenarios and making meaningful plans feels like running through an oil spill.

Unpredictability hijacks our attempts to strategise and budget. We want to be ready at short notice to go from idling to sprinting when travel resumes in full force. But we don’t know what the tourism landscape will look like when the pandemic ends.

What we do know is that this legacy of stress can be tempered, and the controls are in our hands.

Shifting Gears

Your best course of action is proaction. Don’t allow stress to become a liability for your business. From an individual and leadership perspective, we recommend three mindful approaches to alleviating stress and reinvigorating energy levels at work.

Mind your Routine

Mindfulness is about practising self-awareness in every little task you perform. No task is insignificant because all that good energy adds up.

Understand your decisions better, mindful of the biases that led you to form them. In each task, consciously play to your strengths and reach out to the right teammate(s) to help you overcome weaknesses. That way you correct small aberrations before they grow horns.

By training your brain to become more self-aware, you’re living in the moment. It teaches you where to put your focus and energy, invigorating you with a mental recharge.

Deliberate Leadership

If you’re in a leadership position, your staff will be wondering about your attitude. They will take their cue from your example. This is an important time to share your forward-thinking vision openly with the entire team. They want to see you positioning the company for growth, with your aims communicated deliberately. A leadership on autopilot leaves their team wondering, untethered, and stressed.

Positive mindset must filter down from the top to be sustained. Focus on your response, not the circumstance. Set your teams small, achievable short-term goals as part of the bigger plan. Follow up with acknowledgements of hard work and praise for accomplishments.

You could start the work week with #MondayMotivation mantras for the team. It’s an opportunity to inject the ‘why’ that drives your business into your team’s daily efforts. A small, compassionate touch, it promotes solidarity and inclusivity among your team.

From Survival to Recharge mode

Would you rather sit back, wait for things to improve, and act defensively when the light turns green? A bad time for business can be the right time for new business! Energise your staff by shifting focus onto new market(s) and new product(s). Inviting employees to collaborate on new developments is a great motivator.

If you’ve already cut costly processes and tools, channel your collective energies into the areas identified as bringing the most value to your operations – support and steer your team through the adjustments so that nobody is left behind.

Jumpstart your Engine

A wise observation notes: where focus goes, energy flows. Consider which aspects of your operations can be recharged as healthy work habits; then mindfully direct that focus to inspire your team.

Informed team, motivated team

Solidarity is caring. Start by elevating the role of team spirit in your company culture. It’s unhealthy to bottle up negative feelings and thoughts; so create a space for staff to express themselves, free of judgement. It’s also an opportunity for individuals to share what they want to learn. By pooling resources, you can optimise your team’s best assets – skills, knowledge and experience – and enable others to share what they know with the rest of the team.

After more than a year apart, your team needs to make concerted efforts to keep lines of communication open. They may be vulnerable to apathy and disinterested in maintaining relationships – remind them with action (more than words) that they remain part of a team.

Organised team, focused team

Time only becomes a great stressor when everything is prioritised (and nothing is a priority). To better manage your time, you must manage your expectations, and schedule your priorities accordingly.

Project manage team work using Asana, Microsoft Planner or similar – organise your life with listed tasks, reasonable deadlines, and clearly-defined outcomes. It focuses the attention and directs the energy towards manageable actions. Ticking tasks off to-do lists is also very rewarding and cathartic.

Engaged team, inspired team

Recharging is not about turning your company upside-down and ‘re-setting’; it’s about revitalising the good stuff you have with new vision and inclusive strategies.

Involve your team in the journey to explore your company’s place in the changing landscape. Encourage them to participate in virtual trade shows, to connect with trade partners, share your struggles and solutions, and keep an eye on the competition. Learn what others are doing or not doing, and what your company can do to stand out.

Healthy team, happy team

We end our stress-busting story as we suggest you begin yours: caring for your mental health. Batteries are worthless when they’re empty.

  • Challenge your teammates to some fun desk exercises.
  • Try habit-stacking, where you gradually add more time to good habits. Wake up ten minutes earlier every week to start your morning meditation, journaling or exercise, until you’re waking up an hour earlier and loving the start of each day.
  • Take a personal day to recharge your body and mind.
  • Connect with teammates just to chat; not about work.
  • Thank a teammate for lending support or a job well done.
  • Reward teammates with small pamper hampers or sweet treats.
  • Run virtual programmes on team building and personal branding to remind staff that they are valued, of your collective ‘why’, and of the value they continue to bring onboard.

The road ahead feels slippery, but there’s an air of excitement out there. Shift gears, do some self-care, and neutralise the stress. There’s nothing like an energy injection and a battery recharge to get you and your team functioning at full throttle.

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