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When a critical event happens, whether it’s a pandemic, a natural disaster, or a traumatic internal event, leaders need to be empowered to support their employees.
Regardless of your industry, your employees are struggling under new working conditions, added stress, changes in their home life, and other daily adjustments. Under these circumstances, it is likely you will see an impact on key engagement outcomes including greater absenteeism and lower levels of productivity.
So how did we create this important package?
The Achievers Workforce Institute, the science and research arm of the company, immediately started looking at research and best practices for supporting employee wellbeing during critical events. We dove deep into the academic literature and made the most of my 20 years of experience supporting organizations to engage their staff, regardless of the circumstances around them.
Our goal was to empower employers and managers to provide support to frontline employees, which we know is highly predictive of good outcomes for both individuals and organizations
Through this in-depth research process, we identified six key drivers that help protect and build resilience in an organization. We’re calling them protective drivers, and we’ve made sure they are measurable and, most importantly, actionable. Monitoring and proactively acting on these drivers will help ensure better outcomes in the long term as organizations work to navigate the current challenges.
The key protective drivers (and the science behind them)
Are your employees receiving information that is both timely and credible? Research shows employees are more quickly able to cope with change when they feel they are being kept in the loop with relevant, accurate information.
Research-based evidence: Communication is a crucial tool for moving employees through the emotional change curve (Wiggins).
Ensuring employees have the resources they need to achieve success in their role is critical. Having the tools, technology, and plans necessary to move through this unprecedented time is a major predictor of long-term success
Research-based evidence: Access to necessary resources is one of the five levers of employee engagement (Cardus).
Work-life balance inevitably suffers in times of crisis. Some of this can’t be changed but offering sufficient support and checking in to see how employees feel about their ability to balance work and personal obligations is still important.
Research-based evidence: Work-life balance is severely impacted in times of crisis.
A strong correlation exists between stress and crisis – which can lead to physical and mental health challenges. If well-being is compromised, everything else comes to a standstill. Be sure to keep tabs on how you can support this fundamental protective factor.
Research-based evidence: There is a great deal of evidence supporting the fact that stress and economic crisis lead to mental and physical health issues (Mucci).
Contact with leadership
Ensuring employees have sufficient contact with leaders and managers is a crucial tool in times of challenge. If you can achieve this, it will support all the other drivers listed above.
Research-based evidence: Strong manager communication channels improve post-crisis communication (Ulmer).
Contact with colleagues
It’s important to ensure that employees have sufficient contact with colleagues. Evidence shows that maintaining relationships with co-workers lowers the risk of burnout and can increase motivation and morale.
Research-based evidence: High-quality relationships with coworkers decrease burnout risk and increase work motivation (Fernet).
About the Achievers Critical Response Survey
Using these six key protective drivers as a starting point, we created an eight-question survey that will measure employee well-being in each of these areas. By evaluating whether employees have the support they need, your organization can identify and address sensitive areas before they become problems. I recommend surveying your employee base multiple times, even up to twice a month, during this critical period. This will allow you to track changes in sentiment and direct managers towards potential issues before they expand.
About the Achievers Critical Response Toolkit
Once you have this information, what do you do with it? Your managers are your best line of defense. Arming them with information and conversation starters to dig into their team’s feelings and reactions will lead to a stronger, more resilient workforce. That’s where the Achievers Critical Response Toolkit comes in. A simple grid of drivers, goals, considerations, and conversation starters, the toolkit empowers managers to connect directly with their teams in these key areas. It offers guidance and direction to help them help their teams – no training required.
Whether you’re frontline, essential services during this pandemic, or you’ve had to layoff significant numbers of employees, providing the right support to your existing workforce is crucial for coming through this challenging time successfully. How we react to a crisis determines how we emerge.