A COVID vaccine is near, but companies need resilience to get there
A vaccine is on the horizon! While that’s the best news we’ve had in a while, it’s offset by the sobering number of cases surging around the world. We are now entering a new wave of lockdowns and we know how to continue to build the resilience necessary to survive.
Those are the words we’ve been waiting all year to hear and, with it, the hope that the pandemic will end. However, before it gets here we have many challenges to deal with. Lockdowns around the UK and Europe. Surging cases in the US. The solution hasn’t changed — we still need more social distancing, but sheer fatigue is setting in and getting to the end of the tunnel can seem like a daunting task.
During this tumultuous year, we at Friday Pulse have continued to ask employees of our clients, “How have you felt at work this week?” Their responses have enabled us to track the impact of COVID-19 on employee experience. As a result, we’ve been able to turn their answers into data points and chart their progress.
We’ve called this journey the ‘resilience curve’ — evidence of how people have bounced back from the shock of the first wave of COVID-19. Now, as we face second and third waves, we have updated the graph to reflect how people have been feeling throughout the last few months. We’re also going to share some thoughts on how companies can continue to build resilience.
A look at the resilience curve
As a reminder, the below data is from Friday Pulse clients — people who have actively taken an interest in the wellbeing of their people. The numbers reflected here are probably better than what is going on in the marketplace.
The last few months have been disruptive and, more recently, things have been slightly trending downwards again. It’s not surprising why — there have been new waves of furloughs and redundancies. Some feel anxiety that the holidays at the end of the year may be spent in isolation. Add to that the discomfort of a political season and the news COVID-19 cases rising, and we’ve got an easy case for decreasing happiness scores.
At the beginning of the year, the pre-COVID average was 69.6 across all clients. In the months since the initial wave of lockdown, that number has dropped to 66.4. There is pressure entering the system that needs to be addressed. When we look at the graph above, we can see the sheer weariness and resignation of people in it. The drop off we see at the end of the chart is a collective act of holding our breath, as if to say, “Here we go again.”
We’ve been here before and we know how to survive lockdown
But the thing is, we know how to handle this.
The first step is to acknowledge our negativity bias and begin building on the positive. Negativity bias is our natural tendency to lean towards outcomes that are negative rather than those that are neutral or positive. It’s not just an optimist/pessimist thing either. The effect of a positive result has less of an influence on our behaviour than a negative one.
It’s easy to get drawn into negative narratives about our lives or our situations. Take politics as an example — our feelings about candidates or news headlines can make our days feel rotten. But the reality is that these political events have minimal actual impact on our daily lives. It won’t affect the taste of your coffee unless you let it.
In that light, if we want to carry whatever momentum we had in innovation or creativity, we need to acknowledge the stresses but focus on the positives. This means making a consistent, deliberate effort to identify the good things going on in your business and build on them.
It’s also good to remember that whilst things may look a bit bleak right now — we’ve been here before. This second round of lockdown shouldn’t be as much of a shock as the first lockdown.
If you’ve been following our newsletter, here’s a reminder of the things you know how to do:
You know how to accentuate the positive Focusing on the positive doesn’t only mean looking at life through rose-coloured glasses or lying to ourselves. What it means is you celebrate the wins — no matter how big or small — that your team has. If you’re already a Friday Pulse user, take advantage of our people platform to spread some positivity around. Our tool helps people focus on things that are going well in the workplace, as well as express gratitude for each other.
Thrive through measuring and monitoring team culture The key to surviving during lockdown is to check in with your teams — in an empathetic, not overbearing way. Some of your people may be facing new challenges this time around, so it’s important to be understanding and give them space and time they need. You can also monitor wellness levels with the weekly Friday Pulse survey to do it in a less intrusive way. Above all, explicitly check in with your team.
Create a place of psychological safety Psychological safety is a critical component to having a workplace that fosters positive emotions and supports its employees. We must express compassionate curiosity to understand different views and exercise professional empathy to ask better questions and show empathy and vulnerability to help our colleagues.
Healing and surviving the next wave of lockdowns
Undoubtedly, there are a lot of raw emotions right now that threaten to spill over into the workplace. That’s okay. If we didn’t feel these things, then we wouldn’t be human. But it’s also important to remember the things we can control. We can watch out for each other. We can check in on our teams and see how people are coping. We can be a friend to those that need a listening ear.
Teams are the instruments of change in a company. Changes in their microcultures are more likely to shape you company’s culture than anything else. In today’s Covid-19 world, flexible team sizes are a must, and small teams are how companies will be able to climb the resilience curve.
Where once the average response to “How have you felt at work this week?” was happy, the new normal is now “Ok”. The costs of a workforce becoming just “Ok” about work can be high but connecting with your team in better ways may be a feasible solution.