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COVID-19 workplace survival

By Staff | Oct 13, 2020

The Gallup organization, designers of the famous polls, recently wondered which qualities define a workplace resilient enough to withstand the toll of coronavirus. This was a big project: pollsters analyzed 62,965 workplace teams to identify qualities and trends among them.

The study found thriving and resilient cultures endure through good times and bad.

Workers’ compounding concerns about health, financial future and disrupted life combine to create perhaps the toughest time most of us have ever experienced.

The percentage of people who said they were “thriving” dropped in the last three months to the lowest rate since the Great Recession of 2008.

Gallup said in a statement, “It takes an exceptional level of resilience for organizations and employees to thrive in such an uncertain and radically disrupted climate.”

Gallup said, “Favorable job attitudes have a stronger relationship to organizational outcomes in bad economic times than they do in normal or good times.”

Gallup found that the percentage of engaged employees has not significantly changed through various pandemics, e.g. West Nile virus, SARS, Zika virus, or bird flu, nor through two major recessions and 9/11.

Employee engagement, the study said, has changed almost entirely in response to organizational practices, like top executive involvement, manager education, communication and accountability.

Gallup said prior to COVID-19, employee engagement had reached record levels.

The study found, however, the relationship between employee engagement and performance does change during crises. In fact, during the past major recessions, employee engagement has proven to be even more important.

Based on the data, researchers came up with five engagement elements that make a difference.

1. Clear expectations. During tough times, employees need managers who reset priorities, involve them in reestablishing their goals and constantly clarify their role relative to their coworkers.

2. The right materials and equipment. As work changes during a crisis, ongoing discussions about what resources employees need to get work done are important to minimize stress and improve performance.

3. Opportunities for employees to do what they do best. The ability to leverage one’s strengths in a crisis is the difference between moving toward opportunity and falling victim to circumstances.

4. Connection to the mission or purpose of the organization. During a crisis, people need to see how they, and their work, fit into the bigger picture — how they can impact something significant and know their work matters.

5. Coworkers committed to quality work. There is no room for slack in a crisis. All team members must be dedicated to high-quality, efficient work. It is equally essential that teams within an organization rely on and respect one another’s work.

Gallup said managers can focus on the basics: clear expectations, providing resources, helping employees use their strengths, connect to the mission so they remember their piece of the larger puzzle, and commitment to quality work among the entire team.

“Focusing on these elements matters most in seeing a team through the coronavirus pandemic — and any crises it will confront in the future,” researchers said.