By Molly Wood, SPHR, Senior HR Consultant.
Have you seen the TikTok video of the girl who is trying to pick up guys at a bar after being in isolation for a year? It’s funny. Although NSFW (I’m not providing a link!).
The point of it is that we are all a little socially awkward after being away from people so long. If your staff is just coming back to the office, there may be some discomfort with the changed environment. This is true not only for those who are naturally more introverted, but also your office extroverts. Verywellmind.com points to research that shows that social skills can atrophy just like muscles that aren’t used.
There are also the safety concerns and COVID courtesies to be considered. Employers may require people to continue to wear masks which impairs non-verbal communication. People may no longer want to shake hands or may be uncomfortable when a colleague hangs over their cube. We all have a different level of sensitivity to these concerns.
Some indicators of social awkwardness are overreacting to things, oversharing during conversation, and misinterpreting the intentions of others – all which can be very problematic in the workplace. As we (hopefully) transition into a post-pandemic world make sure that your work environment is a place where people feel safe and respected. And maybe be socially awkward once in a while.
SDEA members have unlimited consultation hours to discuss their own social awkwardness and that of their staff. (Just kidding, kind of). When you need HR advice, don’t hesitate to call.