McKinsey’s Research on Improving Employee Engagement During Covid-19

With the first phase of the Covid-19 pandemic coming to a halt, the world is slowly reopening, one day at a time. Schools are opening in shifts, some offices are running on 50% capacity and the world has gradually learned how to adapt to the new normal. But even then, there’s a huge shift in terms of how things work, especially in terms of improving employee engagement. With the entire world shifting to a work-from-home model, the workforce has definitely been dealt some difficult cards. After carrying out a holistic survey in a wide range of companies featuring more than 800 US-based employees, McKinsey and Company has carried out a research study that shows exactly how the employee experience has been shaped by the pandemic and what future measures can be taken to shape it for the better in the case of a possible second wave

What is the most important thing when trying to increase employee engagement?

The most important thing to practice as a leader during times like these is empathy. Understanding that getting the job done isn’t more important than the health and well-being of your employees is the smartest move to make at the moment. Research has shown that if employees are overburdened with work, it ultimately decreases their productivity in the longer run. And with everyone already in a bad mental state because of the pandemic, it’s really important to run businesses in a way that no one is left behind.

How does investing in relationships help increase employee engagement?

With the advent of a second phase of the pandemic, it’s imperative to understand that people’s lives have turned upside down. For any organization to function smoothly, its leaders need to provide the employees a space and all the resources for community building, rather than just focusing on the business. In the midst of this chaos, only those companies that have shown major progress are those where the people in charge are ready to listen to the workforce and make decisions with their input. Companies who win their employees’ confidence and trust are the only ones who have been able to respond well to this whole situation.

To increase employee engagement, create and maintain a culture that values inclusion, individuality, and social harmony

Remote working demands that people interact with each other in ways that they never would otherwise. In the ‘new normal’, there can be no workforce without collaboration every step of the way. To promote transparency and team-building within different sectors of a workplace, it’s important to make every employee feel included. Creating physically and psychologically safe work environments should always be a priority to let the employees move in their own directions, without limiting their creative capacities.

Connect people to something bigger than themselves and help them contribute

In the pandemic, during the lockdown, the entire world seems to have collectively lost a sense of purpose. What’s the point of doing anything if the entire world can get shut down in an instant? That’s exactly the kind of mindset that leaders need to discourage – and that in itself is a huge thing to ask for. Connecting actions to purpose in workplaces has been proven to yield results better than just mindlessly making your employees churn work out. With the workforce returning back to work post all the destruction of the pandemic, it’s extremely important for organizations to help them regain their sense of purpose. Whatever changes the organization has gone through, talk it out with your employees, make them part of the process. Help them understand how critical their role is to the functioning of the organization as a whole in order to help them adjust to a work model that perhaps has never been the norm before.

Adapting a kind, inclusive and interdisciplinary approach to solving the problems of the workplace before returning back to work is important in case we face another wave of the virus. Organizations have to take the lead in these conditions and understand how important it is to foster a culture of understanding the employees’ struggles and coming up with resources to ensure that no factor limits their potential. The diverse set of challenges posed by the virus can only be solved by constantly analyzing causes and effects of every single measure that’s taken by companies to increase employee engagement during this phase of the pandemic.