Our businesses have all gone through massive changes within the last few weeks, forcing owners and employees at all levels to become change agents and innovators to navigate new challenges as they arise. Our attitude is that we’re all in this together, and it’s up to each of us to contribute what we can to help everyone make it work, stay afloat, and stay positive and productive.
COVID-19 has united all of us, on a global scale, in a way that only true crises can.
We’re coming together against a common enemy, not only on the global scale, or even the individual scale, but also within businesses and organizations.
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In fact, you may have seen some of the positive effects in your own organization:
- Employees suggesting ways to work more efficiently from home
- Employees going the extra mile to retain clients and serve customers
- Employees spending extra time to encourage and connect with their coworkers
- Employees and management teams working harder to respond quickly (important when circumstances change drastically overnight).
These are all characteristics of an engaged workforce united around a strong, common purpose. And that purpose is surviving COVID-19.
In this way, COVID-19 is acting as a ready-made Engaged Purpose — a rallying point, a cause, that brings us together — generating higher levels of employee engagement.
As a business owner or leader, you may be thinking that you can bring this unique energy forward into the future of your business; that you can take your lessons learned, and make your organization stronger coming out of this.
If that’s what you’re thinking, you’re not alone.
84% of companies believe employee engagement has gone up. — Willa Towers Watson, Deeper Dive into the Employee Experience Implications of COVID-19 (22 April 2020)
We’ve seen it at Engagement Multiplier too, with our client organizations running benchmark surveys throughout the COVID-19 isolation period. Many have seen significant jumps in employee engagement scores over the past two months. And, with higher levels of engagement comes improvement in employee experience and company culture (and all of the benefits that come with those key performance indicators – higher productivity, retention, innovation)
These are outcomes we’d all like to keep and build on once this crisis is over. But they can also give us a false sense of security. One we’re calling…
The COVID Trap
At some point, the COVID-19 crisis will end. And, as business owners and leaders, the question we need to ask ourselves is:
What happens when the common enemy is gone?
When governments announce that the crisis is coming to an end, employee mindsets will immediately shift. People will be less fearful. The sense of urgency will dissipate. And you’ll need a meaningful Engaged Purpose to keep your team feeling motivated.
Purpose is especially important now, as the Millennial generation becomes the dominant demographic in the workforce. We’ve written many articles about how Millennials are the “meaning generation.” They’re more interested in meaning than in money, in many cases. Understanding that need for deeper purpose will be essential, because while COVID will end, Millennials and their values aren’t going away.
Here’s what you need to know to keep the engagement you’re experiencing now after the crisis has ended.
To keep this engaged energy in your post-COVID business, start preparing to answer these questions now:
- What is your Purpose post COVID, when the common enemy that unites us falls away?
- Is your purpose still relevant in the ‘new normal’? The world has changed and your business, and customers, may have changed too. You may need to update your purpose accordingly.
As you consider the answers to these questions, bring your employees into the conversation. Ask them for feedback on your existing purpose. Ask them how connected they feel to it. Ask them if and how it may need to change moving forward.
Investing the time now into connecting your team with a meaningful purpose (that isn’t COVID-19) will pay dividends when this crisis is over.
Because the most important question you need to answer isn’t whether Coronavirus will rewrite the future of your business.
It already has.
The question is: Will your story be a cautionary tale, or a story of triumph after adversity.
Free offer for our readers:
To help business leaders guide their teams out of the COVID crisis and thrive in the new normal, Engagement Multiplier is providing free access to our Benchmark Assessment and a custom question module designed to identify the hidden wins their teams achieved as they navigated the last two months.
Here are the details: https://www.engagementmultiplier.com/emerge