In times of corona, every leader would like an answer to these questions: How do I keep my teams vital, productive and engaged? How are other companies doing this right now? How do I make my organization resilient to emerge stronger from this crisis?
You should not look for the answers in a benchmark, but among your own employees, the heart of your organization. How you engage with them now determines the future of your company. Because the impact of working from home, insecurity, social distance, too little work or a sky-high workload, is present!
2DAYSMOOD and Empatix measure that impact in organizations and teams, and help them improve employee well-being and their working climate in a data driven way. In the latest data from the Netherlands (>30,000 surveys in >60 companies) we clearly see an increase in stress (from 17% to 28%) and dissatisfaction (from 14% to 23%), and a decrease in work happiness (from 69% to 53%), since the outbreak of the corona virus.
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Martin Meulenkamp, CEO of 2DAYSMOOD, and former corporate HR director, shares insights to interpret and positively influence these figures.
The influence of Leadership and Resilience
Martin: “The graphs above show two clear themes: Leadership and Resilience. In the weeks leading up to the strict measures in society (social distancing, working from home), you can already see that tension and uncertainty are building up. And then the impact of the corona outbreak turns out to be many times greater than expected, on our financial prospect and well-being, both in the workplace and at home.
Moreover, the integration of these worlds is becoming a fact for many people, and that also brings extra stress. How do you, as a head of the family, stay focused and motivated in your work? Or how do you avoid becoming overworked in social isolation?
From that point on, leaders must take their responsibility! And in a crisis situation you automatically see who the managers are (who manage processes) and the leaders (who lead people). If you ask me, both our Dutch Prime Minister and King have positioned themselves in the category of leaders.
And many CEOs, senior managers and team leaders have probably followed their example: portraying leadership by paying extra attention to crystal clear communication, connection and trust. So that employees can accept the new status quo. This is reflected in the drop in stress levels. As Dutch people, we are now (at the time of writing) in that acceptance phase, in which we demonstrate our resilience.”
“To make it simple: Excitement + Satisfaction = Employee Happiness = More Successful Organization.”
Mood during work determines behavior
Martin: “But stress is not the only emotion that counts if you want to keep your employees healthy, engaged and productive. Rising dissatisfaction, in combination with it a drop in satisfaction and enthusiasm (as we see in the graphs), can be just as damaging for a company in the long run.
Just a brief explanation. With the mood model and survey tool from 2DAYSMOOD (based on Russell’s Circumplex model of Emotional Classification), organizations monitor the mood of their employees in 15 seconds. Two factors are important in this: energy and pleasure. The two together lead to excitement. Excited employees are a source of innovation, creativity and solutions. When the energy decreases you get satisfaction. But please note, you also need those satisfied employees; the stable productive people who ensure results. To make it simple: Excitement + Satisfaction = Employee Happiness = More Successful Organization. This formula is endangered if stress or satisfaction turn into (long-term) dissatisfaction.
Because a dissatisfied employee, with little energy, does not go that extra mile for his colleagues or employer. Let alone the influence on his own well-being. And these things are essential right now.
So as a manager you have to ask yourself, what are the origins of dissatisfaction? And how can you improve this as quickly as possible in order to emerge stronger from this crisis together with your employees? I will give you 3 pieces of advice.”
- Don’t invest time in non-existing problems
- Communicating makes sense, over-communicating is nonsense
- Negativity is a waste of your time
“Are your employees happy about the degree of solidarity or leadership? Do they feel resilient? It is valuable to know if and why this is the case.”
1. Don’t invest time in non-existing problems
Martin: “Whether it concerns working from home, turnover, or sky-high workload. The continuity of many companies is at stake, so make sure you switch to relevant output quickly. And that is provided by the satisfied and excited employees. But because the working context has also completely changed for them, you may no longer know what determines their energy and pleasure, especially if colleagues and the comfortable office environment are at a distance. You can rely on your gut feeling, but you run the risk of solving problems that do not exist for employees in the current situation.
We have developed a solution for this together with Empatix (People Analytics Expert). A new science based “Remote Experience Monitor” has recently been added to our tool. With this realtime monitor you gain insight into the factors that now determine the working atmosphere in your (remote) team or organization. Think of: Well-being, Work-Life balance, Collegiality, Trust, Empathy of leadership, Effectiveness of communication and more. We offer the monitor for free at this time.”
2. Communicating makes sense, over-communicating is nonsense
Martin: “Every (self-appointed) expert nowadays gives tips about working from home, and I have no objection to that. But I read and hear “Overcommunicate!” a little too often. My tip is: nuance this. If you’re a good leader, you know how to bring people together, or your team leaders know. So communication just has to be sufficient and balanced, then you dare to trust and build on the competency and responsibility of your people.
Do you want to organize a daily digital coffee check-in, a weekly progress meeting and virtual Friday Drinks? And also put everyone in the cc in emails or tag them in Slack channels? I would think twice about that! Facilitate it, but especially connect your people. Let them take the initiative and join where you can. As a manager you can then focus on communication that is about the future of your company, relevant output, appreciation and trust.”
3. Negativity is a waste of time
Martin: “Because of all the challenges and changes that your organization has to endure, it is naturally easy to focus on things that are not going well. After all, you want to improve it, and that immediately feels useful. But I know from experience that it is smart to look at things that are going well in the current situation. Are your employees happy with the degree of solidarity or leadership? Do they feel resilient? It is valuable to know if and why this is the case.
It is often the (human) way of doing things that ensures a positive result. And you can copy that method in other important areas of your working climate. Besides, it is now also pleasant for employees to hear a positive sound as a contrast to all the negative news.
Incidentally, you should definitely tackle the things that are not going well. But often the cause of those problems is known, while the solutions (especially at this time) are not always within your control.
Finally, I sincerely hope that I can help other leaders in organizations with these insights. At 2DAYSMOOD, we work people-oriented, data-driven, with positivity, trust and responsibility. And with these values we also help other organizations to grow or survive.
I would love to get in touch if you want to exchange thoughts!”