To say that we are living in a unique time is an understatement.
Whether your employees are working from home, returning to the workplace under new safety rules, taking time off, or a combination of these, it’s likely they’re stressed, anxious, and confused. This year has been a crucible for even the hardiest of souls.
One of the greatest challenges for employees adapting to the new normal is that this was not an evolutionary change. Instead, like the flip of a switch, your employees’ lives turned upside down in a moment.
What can your organization do to help employees cope? The answer is surprisingly simple: Communicate.
We’re in a very specific moment, both as business professionals and as part of the culture at large. Much of our current situation is being captured through data that reflect what people are feeling and how they’re reacting to new challenges. This is a great opportunity for organizations to learn from that data and take action.
A few select facts and figures from recent surveys, studies, and reports offer tremendous insight into the current state of our world at work. You may find them helpful in guiding your employee communications strategy now—during the pandemic—and well into the future.
Although favored by many employees, WFH presents its share of challenges. Building and maintaining cohesive teams are far more challenging when folks can’t meet face to face. Productivity can suffer because of domestic distractions. And the lack of shared spaces contributes to the sense of social isolation people may be feeling. There’s a reason the proverbial water cooler was such a popular gathering spot.
Unfortunately, when we spend all that time caring for others, we tend to neglect ourselves. The Torchlight Report of Working Caregiver Concerns found that employees who are caring for children, elderly family members, or both reported that they are struggling with their own self-care. Employee caregivers showed a nearly 32% increase in concern about their own well-being. This kind of stress and fatigue can lead to burnout, which is not only bad for employees but also has adverse economic consequences for employers.
Even worse, current research indicates people are hindering their own retirement saving efforts. An Edelman Financial Engines survey in August found that half of U.S. employees took actions detrimental to their long-term financial security due to the pandemic. Yet, at the same time, 90% say that saving for retirement is a current financial goal. As money woes grow for employees who have been furloughed or taken pay cuts, PwC’s report found that more than half of Generation X and Millennial employees said it was likely they would use retirement-plan money for something other than retirement. Raiding retirement accounts can put a strain on future financial security that’s nearly impossible to overcome in later years.
Employees—as well as shareholders and customers—will be watching to see if organizations follow through on their DEI commitments. Long-lasting cultural change requires consistent, mindful effort from all parts of your organization.
Let your people know you’re there for them and how your organization can facilitate their performances. Working together, you and your employees can thrive—even in the face of a pandemic. There has never been a greater need for your people to feel supported. Here’s what you should do:
Research proves that effective communication increases engagement and improves the relationship between an organization and its people. Through frequent, transparent communications from your leadership, your organization can differentiate itself by inspiring and supporting your employees during this uniquely stressful time.
Communications is a critical investment that pays dividends. Perhaps the most striking illustration of this comes from employee-experience software company Limeaid in its Organizational Communication white paper. They found that when employees feel as though information flows freely throughout their organization, they are more likely to feel included, valued, and connected to their organization. The report also found that when employees feel they have received adequate information, they are less likely to feel burned out and more likely to feel engaged in their work.
In less than a year, our lives have changed dramatically—and likely permanently. With those changes comes a tremendous opportunity for you to influence your organization’s culture, support your colleagues, and emphasize your role as a business partner. According to Harvard Business Review, workers are turning to their managers—and HR leaders, in particular—for guidance to understand this new normal and navigate future workplace changes.
Ettore Toppi, Senior Communications Consultant, creates engaging communications campaigns that ensure employees are informed and connected with their benefits.