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Employee experience and COVID-19: How leaders can seize the moment now

As it turns out, most companies did a solid job of addressing their employees’ basic needs of safety, stability, and security during the first phase of the COVID-19 crisis. However, those needs are evolving, calling for a more sophisticated approach to employee experience as organizations enter the next phase.

McKinsey recently surveyed more than 800 US-based employees on a wide variety of topics related to employee experience.

We found that employees working remotely see more positive effects on their daily work, are more engaged, and have a stronger sense of well-being than those in nonremote jobs with little flexibility do. Parents working from home appear to be faring better than those who are more isolated are. Fathers working remotely seem much more positive about the experience than mothers are.

But those statistics belie a more fundamental truth about employee experience: even when faced with similar circumstances—more than 80 percent of respondents say the crisis is materially affecting their daily work lives—people have widely varied experiences, perspectives, and outcomes.T

Opportunities for employee experience

The return phase presents an opportunity for companies to rethink the employee experience in ways that respect individual differences—home lives, skills and capabilities, mindsets, personal characteristics, and other factors—while also adapting to rapidly changing circumstances.

The good news is that with advances in listening techniques, behavioral science, advanced analytics, two-way communication channels, and other technologies, leaders can now address employee experience in a more targeted and dynamic way. While drilling down on which employees need more and varied types of support, they can also tailor actions that create widely shared feelings of well-being and cohesion across the workforce.

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Our research yielded three overarching insights, each coupled with practical steps leaders can take to support employees through this next phase of the crisis:

  • As a leader, you’ve had to make sweeping changes in recent months to address your employees’ most pressing needs, and your workforce thinks your instincts were probably right. Build on the trust and affiliation you’ve earned by continuing to be present, action oriented, empathetic, and fully transparent.
  • In addition to basic needs (safety and security), three other experience themes (trusting relationships, social cohesion, and individual purpose) are having a disproportionate impact on employee well-being and work effectiveness. Enable improvements in those areas by prioritizing actions that will address a broad set of needs for the majority of your workforce.
  • Changes are hitting your people in widely diverging (and sometimes unexpected) ways. Some are struggling, and some are thriving. Use a combination of science, technology, data, and analytics to segment your employees like you would your customers and tailor interventions to support them in personalized and meaningful ways.

Build trust: Keep listening to your workforce

Read more at the source McKinsey Insights: COVID-19 and the employee experience: How leaders can seize the moment https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/covid-19-and-the-employee-experience-how-leaders-can-seize-the-moment?cid=soc-app

Download the paper

COVID-19-and-the-employee-experience-How-leaders-can-seize-the-moment

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