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Equality – what have you challenged lately?

Sept 23 2020 • 3 min read • Employee Engagement

When the lockdown started it was all hands-on deck for the employees who were fortunate enough to keep their day jobs. Many however, soon felt the realities of the imploding workload as the lines between work and home were blurred.

The rush to deal with the disruption, found employees taking on extra work whilst readjusting to new ways of working. Employees reported that their workday had increased by 40% (roughly 3 hours a day) as cited in HBR. In another study by Microsoft, it was confirmed that employees were also working through lunch breaks and later in the evening than they were before. Disturbingly, work-from-home also appeared to be spilling into weekends.

As organisations catch a breath after months of disruption and crisis management employees find themselves at an inflection point, reconsidering work, life, well-being and broader contribution.

There has arguably never been such a time as this, where employees recognise the choices they can make. Although, financial viability remains an important factor, what many employees have gained during this pandemic, is a shift in perspective, which has caused most to re-evaluate and value the non-monetary aspects of their lives. This means, motivation levels and discretionary effort expended at work, have become more sacred. This presents a new challenge for organisations to find ways to truly connect with employees in new ways to drive sustained employee engagement.

While there will be various strategies deployed to drive organisations’ recovery post the pandemic, having a motivated and engaged workforce is critical to driving recovery, everyone in the room is required in order to respond to the unfolding business challenges and emerging customer needs.

An engaged workforce performs at its very best and is motivated to find innovative solutions to help organisations deliver, especially in these extraordinary times. It is at this very moment that organisations would want to leverage the discretionary effort offered by typically engaged employees to drive innovation in the face of a crisis.

Before Corona (BC), there was a global workforce engagement crisis, where it was reported that only 15% of the employees were engaged in their work, and that 67% of the workforce was not engaged in their work, whilst 18% were actively disengaged. Gallup reported that disengagement cost the US alone roughly $550 billion a year.

The pandemic has left employees in different mental spaces, reconsidering where and what they spend their time on, we can assume that engagement will further be impacted as most find themselves at cross roads regarding where to redirect their efforts given that we were all sent to our proverbial rooms by the pandemic and forced to confront our lives and the career choices we had made.

Who says we have to go back to normal?

Coca-Cola’s Open Like Never Before campaign encourages all people to live those exact words, to be ‘open, like never before’, to think differently, embrace change, and better appreciate what was perhaps previously taken for granted and encourages us to never put our dreams in the back seat again, and challenges that most will not want to go back to normal.

Organisations are called more urgently to deliberately focus on employee engagement and find new ways of connecting employees to the organisations purpose as employees ask themselves — do I want to go back to normal?

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