It’s better than a holiday. It’s better than therapy.

It’s better than a holiday. It's better than therapy.
17th June 2020 – How are you doing? How is your family holding up? If you are a business owner, are all the people who work for you doing okay?

It’s so important to keep checking in with yourself, your loved ones, colleagues, and the people in your network.

It may feel as though lockdown is coming to an end. Many shops are open, schools and nurseries are gradually welcoming back kids, and we can spend as much time as we like outside. But this is still a stressful time. Every step that we take towards normality brings joy but also risk – COVID-19 hasn’t been eradicated yet, and that looms large over everything we do.

Most of us have spent the last four months stuck indoors. We are exhausted by the lack of spontaneity and excitement in our lives. We have been missing family and friends. We have been bombarded with dire news about the economy and state of the world. We have probably spent far too much time staring at a screen.

This is why I have been encouraging my colleagues and family to consider taking a break. We all need a holiday. A time to unplug from our smartphones, and hit ‘pause’ on all the lockdown ‘hobbies’ that are threatening to take over our lives. If we don’t take a break from work, we get stale. It takes a proper vacation to reset and help us find renewed enthusiasm.

Unsurprisingly, people aren’t that keen to take holiday now. You can’t go far from home – certainly can’t take a flight. If you don’t have a car, you’re unlikely to want to use public transport. The current rainy weather has put a dampener on all my efforts to encourage people to take a rest.

I’m not one to talk. I’ve considered taking a day or two of holiday but, right now, I’m busier than ever. I’m conducting one-to-one chats with every single colleague in the business. We recently sent out our annual employee survey and I like to follow up with everyone. It’s taking a fair amount of time to get through 170 people but every one of these conversations has been invaluable. I’m checking in to find out how people are doing, how they are coping with their workload, and whether they have all the support they need. I’m a great advocate of mental health support in the workplace. I have been trying to get a sense for whether anyone needs virtual therapy to help them maintain equilibrium.

It turns out – not for the first time – that I’ve been barking up the wrong tree. People not only don’t want a holiday, and don’t need to see an online therapist, they have already found the solution to reigniting their passion for life and work.

What is it, you ask?

Football.

Most of the team members I speak to are absolutely over the moon about the return of the Premier League. It’s the biggest thing in their lives right now. Manchester City versus Arsenal, and Aston Villa versus Sheffield are all anyone wants to talk about. The sheer excitement that comes with watching live entertainment, for the first time in ages, is the medicine we all need.

So instead of encouraging people to talk to a virtual therapist, or asking them to take holiday, maybe I should put some budget towards creating a drive-in cinema experience, where my colleagues can come and watch the games – all socially distanced, of course?

This has been an important reminder that we leaders don’t always need to solve our people’s problems. It’s easy to get carried away with a plan of action or experiment when really, we just need to take a step back, and focus on how we can magnify the solutions that are already out there.

It’s coming home, and the timing couldn’t be better. Come on, Leeds!