Lesson No. 2: Connections come first
In an attempt to keep employees inspired and connected to the organization, HR often focuses on corporate culture and a shared mission. Instead, during a disruption, what employees need more is a personal sense of purpose. When employees believe that their work is personally relevant, there is a 26% increase in the likelihood of sustained workforce health.
Employees also need to feel connected to one another. Fifty-one percent of teams were disrupted due to COVID-19, but Gartner data shows that in times of disruption, the connections in immediate working teams matter most. Highly cohesive teams have a 37% higher likelihood of sustaining workforce health.
HR, along with managers, must help employees connect their personal goals to business goals while also realigning teams to ensure that relationships are functional.
Lesson No. 3: Leaders should prioritize fixing the work
Many organizations attempted to boost workforce resilience by adding employee benefits, recognizing and rewarding employees more for their work, and offering employees greater decision-making autonomy. However, these additional activities had minimal impact in improving workforce resilience during the disruption.
In fact, Gartner's research reveals that if autonomous decision-making is not already a well-practiced capability, increasing autonomy as workload increases seriously degrades workforce health. For the 83% of employees who are operating at or above capacity, increased decision-making authority diminishes their chances of having good workforce health by more than 30%, as it adds too much ambiguity and personal risk and therefore stress.
Actually, one of the biggest drivers of workforce resilience is leaders themselves, and their ability to both understand and address the barriers that are preventing employees from having a healthy work — as well as life — experience. Managers can make work easier by engaging employees with empathy, both personally and professionally.