Earlier in March, as the pandemic spread like wildfire across the globe, many countries started implementing lockdown, lockout, or shelter in place procedures. This forced many companies to close their doors, some permanently, some temporarily, while many others had to learn to navigate a shift to working remotely. This tested our collective agility and the mental strength of humanity as a whole.
Josh Bersin wrote in late April that this pandemic was going to force us into 3 phases of corporate crisis response; react, respond, and return. Here we are rounding out the middle of June and we are noticeably entering into phase 3.
But first, how did employees react to the lockdown?
The Wellbeing Lab Workplace Survey has just released their findings from 1073 randomly selected American workers surveyed in early May. The study included a series of questions to gauge the levels of concerns about the impact of the coronavirus on workplace wellbeing. The results were mixed.
Employees who had always worked from home were most likely to report that they were “really struggling.” While workers who had just started working from home were most likely to report that they were “not feeling bad, but just getting by.” What was surprising though, was the response from parents. Those who had children at home reported being “better able to manage their wellbeing” and had higher levels of job satisfaction. Interesting.
Now, what about the return to work?
The same study found that there are also mixed feelings about returning to work. While 90% said they felt satisfied with their current arrangements, suggesting that many people have been able to successfully adapt to the changes in their work environments, only 21.6% of employees reported feeling happy about going back.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution. In our experience concerns about returning to work are varied. Employees with children may be concerned that summer camps have been canceled, for example, and do not know who will watch their kids. Other employees may have suddenly become primary caregivers to aging parents as outbreaks started in longterm care homes. As unique as each of your employees are, so have their experiences been in the past few months.
This emphasizes the need for empathy and understanding as you develop policies about transitioning back to work. It is important to provide ways in which an employee can express their concerns openly and honestly with the people who need to hear them.
Where does that leave us now?
Just as workplaces were faced with uncertainty due to an abrupt shift to remote work, they now face a whole new uncertainty about guiding their workforces through the process of going back. During this unprecedented period, the #1 priority needs to be that all employees feel safe, supported, and heard.
Business leaders must:
Maintain an honest and ongoing dialog with employees
Understand and provide the support that they need when return to the office
Take employee feedback into building a safe and productive work environment
How Weeve can help
Empower your employees to become part of your solution by providing them the tools they need to express their feelings about returning to work. Weeve is an emotionally aware employee feedback platform that enables people leaders to quickly connect with actionable insights needed to make decisions about returning to work.
Utilizing cutting edge conversational AI, Weeve gives employees a voice. Our empathetic analysis technology reveals hidden needs, identifies employee emotions, and uncovers organizational gaps. Further, it creates a continuous dialog between employees and people leaders to measure satisfaction and crowdsource solutions.
The unique combination of organic conversation, empathy, and anonymity empower employees to talk about their problems about returning to work without reservation. As well as:
Provide an ongoing process of feedback with continual employee outreach
Enables quick sharing of information to provide timely resources to those that need it
At the end of the day, leaders are given a clearly defined path to insights about what questions and concerns their employees may
have during the transition back to work. This can be done at scale with pre-built conversations, or completely customized conversations, the choice is yours.
If you are ready to uncover the emotional health and mental state of your workforce as we enter into the next phase of this global crisis, you can try our tools for free. \
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