5 Lessons from Employees for the New Normal in Companies
By Mare Derks | May 7, 2020
As many crisis managers emphasize during this pandemic, with only 50% of the knowledge we still have to make 100% of the decisions. Organizational leaders find themselves in the same situation. How will they successfully shape the new normal in their company when the future has never been so unpredictable?
Two experts share advice for a people-oriented and data-driven approach.
Emerging from a crisis with a people-oriented company culture
The culture in companies can be a driving force to emerge stronger from a crisis. This is demonstrated by organizations that successfully came out of a crisis in the past, such as Viisi and Young Capital. These companies have learned to develop scenarios quickly and not only involve their employees, but put them first. In recent years they have therefore been awarded the titles “Great Place to Work” and “Best Employer”.
“The approach of these companies is smart, because they use and retain their human competitive advantage. For employees, feeling involved in the organization, is often what they value most. If this feeling disappears, due to distance or changes, satisfaction, motivation and loyalty will decrease.” Says Martin Meulenkamp, CEO of 2DAYSMOOD and former HR director.
Theories supporting a people-oriented culture in crisis
With the Pyramid Model of Corporate Culture from KPMG (based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs), business administration professor Muel Kaptein emphasizes that (1) Purpose, (2) Core Values, (3) Stakeholders and (4) Standards and Rules must be reconsidered in this period. Are these culture dimensions still valid now or in the near future, and are the underlying dilemmas known and discussed? For example, do you stay true to your purpose? And in what order do stakeholders receive attention: employees, customers, shareholders?
Choices that companies make now will have an impact on their internal and external reputation for years to come.
A recent study on the best organizational climate in times of crisis and working remotely revealed the factors that are essential to maintain healthy and productive employees.
Daniel Blocq (PhD), Sociologist and People Analytics Expert at Empatix explains: “Right now, companies should pay attention to themes such as trust, connection, dedication, transparency, emotional wellbeing and support from the organization. If this is in balance, they can get back to business faster and positively influence the new normal – with resilient and engaged employees!”
You make your “50% knowledge” as rich and relevant as possible, to make decisions with 100% confidence. That will lead to support and solidarity.
Co-creating the new normal with employees
This process – shaping the new normal – is most effective and sustainable when done in co-creation. In a podcast from People Power Radio, corporate anthropologist Jitske Kramer explains why inclusion is not a luxury, but a smart decision method. Through inclusion you ensure that all emotional, practical and visionary perspectives of stakeholders are represented, to make the best possible decision in the context.
You make your “50% knowledge” as rich and relevant as possible, to make decisions with 100% confidence. That will lead to support and solidarity. However, time is a limiting factor, especially in a crisis. How do you get all those perspectives without losing too much time?
Martin Meulenkamp: “Retrieving employee perspectives can be done relatively fast and data-driven. Many companies use pulse surveys (daily or weekly), which continuously provide relevant insights. Employees are given the opportunity to make their feedback count, simply and anonymously, ensuring that the response rate and reliability are high. The advantage for managers is that they can quickly measure the effects before, during and after changes and can therefore always change course.”
Knowing what is expected of you and a solidarity with colleagues, family or friends seem to be extremely important for fulfillment.
5 Lessons from employees for the new normal
Since the corona pandemic, 2DAYSMOOD and Empatix have offered a remote experience monitor to organizations and teams for free. Science based pulse surveys provide continuous insight into how employees feel and how satisfied they are with the topics that now determine their wellbeing, engagement and productivity. With this intelligence as a starting point, the Board, HR and team leaders can work together in a more targeted way, to build a future-proof culture and organization.
The experts extracted interesting correlations from the anonymous data of the remote experience monitor that support the following 5 insights.
- When employees experience more trust from their managers, we see that the employee’s optimism about their future is greater. This is the feeling of trust that the employee carries out their work professionally and diligently. This correlation is many times stronger than the one between ‘attention from managers or the organization’ and ‘optimism about the future’.
- When employees feel more connected to people around them and they experience clarity about their tasks, we see that they feel more fulfilled by their work. Knowing what is expected of you and a sense of solidarity (with colleagues, family or friends) seem to be extremely important for fulfillment. These correlations are greater than any other in the data.
- When employees feel more connected to people around them (colleagues, family or friends), they can better cope with stress. This in itself is not surprising. But the correlation is stronger than the one between “attention from managers or the organization” and “dealing with stress.” This means that as an organization you may also need to pay attention to lateral support, not just vertical.
- When an organization shows interest in the wellbeing of employees, we see that employees (1) go the extra mile to overcome challenges and (2) experience more mutual support. The second correlation is strong and indicates a learning effect: if the organization takes a positive attitude, employees may copy that attitude and spread it among collegues.
- When an organization is transparent about important matters, employees more often report happy emotions, and less often unhappy emotions, especially “irritated.” This correlation highlights the importance of honesty and timely communication. Unpleasant emotions and stress can probably be prevented when transparency is a norm.