Workplaces are being hit with a new kind of issue that is decimating businesses faster than the impact of COVID. It is called ‘reteam-itis’. Businesses all over the country have been operating from home remotely for the better part of three years. Some have transitioned to a hybrid model where staff come into the office occasionally for meetings and townhall events, but for the most part, workers have been doing the bulk of their work from home.
What is the current workplace landscape in Australia?
During this time, people and workplaces have changed. People have gone through a process of incredible personal change. Some people have got married and had babies. Others have lost friends and family members and endured sickness and life-changing events.
Businesses have also recruited new team members and these people have been onboarded and in many cases never really worked alongside their new team members in person.
Now that workplaces across the country are bringing staff members back to the office, people are now having to work together in person for the first time over an extended period and the reality is that many simply don’t like each other. I am being inundated with calls from business owners and managers urgently needing help to reunite their people as a team.
I have coined the term ‘reteam-itis’ because we are seeing teams reuniting and becoming very sick operationally because team members don’t get along. Existing team members are no longer connecting with each other and many are not connecting with new team members at all. Consequently there is a lot of friction, unhappiness and discontentment appearing.
Mistakes are happening, targets are not being met and workplace complaints are on the rise. Good people are leaving Australian organisations to move on to other workplaces where they feel more comfortable and in alignment with the workplace culture. However, ‘reteam-itis ’is a very serious issue and Australian businesses need to address the issue quickly.
Why is ‘reteam-itis’ occurring?
Many workplaces were so busy during COVID simply trying to deliver on their work and deal with ongoing business requirements that issues such as training, cohesion and culture fell to the wayside. In addition, most workplaces recruited during the COVID pandemic and many of these new recruits have never stepped foot into the office since starting their new role.
While recruiting online may seem efficient unfortunately it can be difficult to get a real sense of whether someone is going to bond with other members in person without getting to know them face to face. For these reasons, workplaces are experiencing ‘reteam-itis’. Essentially people are not getting along and conflict is on the rise and productivity is being impacted.”
Identifying if your workplace is experiencing ‘reteam-itis’
We are seeing an increase in the number of workplace complaints that involve issues with the behaviour or actions of other workers. HR areas are noticing a rise in conflict. Sometimes conflict isn’t always obvious. It can manifest in different ways. Staff can become withdrawn.
Customer service levels drop. There may be arguments between people in the workplace. Productivity slippage is always an obvious sign. An increase in absenteeism is also another indicator that shows people are choosing to stay away from work to avoid stress and angst.
How to deal with reteam-itis
If there is any hint of ‘reteam-itis’ it is important to act quickly. This is an issue that cannot be solved with a simple team lunch or out of office team activity, it requires a more comprehensive and strategic approach. The risks to people and the business are too high. My advice is to call in an expert who has experience in dealing with the issue. The first process involves understanding the depth of the problem and clarifying the reasons for the issues.
Once this is established, the expert can then develop up a strategy to address the issue across a number of levels including support, training and coaching, leadership and mentoring. Ongoing consultation will be required to monitor progress and outcomes. Sometimes it will be necessary to move people on in order to de-escalate the situation.
That said, ‘reteam-itis’ is a serious issue that not only impacts the ability of a business to retain and attract talent, it also impacts performance and introduces other risks including complaints and legal action against a business for failure to provide a safe workplace.
Christina Foxwell is the founder and CEO of Ignite Purpose, a human-centred performance improvement, coaching, training and consulting practice. Foxwell is the author of Glass Angel, a book which not only explores her difficult upbringing, it also provides readers with insight into how she turned her life around through employing the right mindset.