Count Your Business Blessings, There’s Actually A Lot To Be Grateful For This Thanksgiving

CEO and founder of Grokker, the on-demand well-being engagement solution, personalized to match employees’ needs and abilities.

2020 has been one of the most stressful years in modern history, but instead of cataloging its challenges — and there have been many — let’s take a few moments to bask in the silver lining and the albeit mixed blessings the year has produced, specifically for employees and their employers.

This Too Shall Pass — And Strengthen Us.

Everything we’ve experienced this past year has given us the gift of resilience, a gift that’s as valuable to a business as it is to its employees. Research examined by Harvard Business Review shows that those who are the most intimately exposed to suffering benefit from higher resilience levels, and — specifically for the workforce — the more changes one absorbs, such as layoffs or furloughs, sheltering in place and change in work hours, the more resilient one becomes. 

Resilience en masse, especially when it’s guided by strong leadership and an organizational growth mindset, is what gives a workforce culture a beautiful combination of humility, grit and consciousness that it couldn’t really achieve any other way. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, things have gotten better for employees across several key indicators of organizational (not to mention employee) health.

Personal Connections, Prioritized 

When employees had to unexpectedly begin social distancing and many pivoted to working in relative isolation at home, companies quickly recognized the importance — and need — for connection. It’s required for effective virtual collaboration, of course, but social belonging and camaraderie are central to maintaining cultural ties. As a result, companies are exploring new ways to meaningfully connect colleagues using both technology (e.g., video meetings and instant messaging apps) and workday practices (e.g., kicking off meetings with social banter and virtual happy hours).

These connectivity tactics will become entrenched in the “new normal” and won’t simply fall out of favor — because, thankfully, they really work. A Boston Consulting Group (BCG) study analyzing employee sentiment on workplace changes brought on by Covid-19 found that U.S. employees who reported satisfaction with social connectivity with their colleagues were approximately 3.2 times more likely to say they were as productive or more productive than they were pre-Covid-19. 

Engagement And Productivity For The Win 

Since 2000, Gallup has been tracking the relatively steady metric of employee engagement. They reported that in 2020 — surely to no one’s surprise — engagement levels fluctuated more than ever before. “After a wild summer,” they said, “…engagement has reverted back to pre-Covid-19 levels,” noting that the pandemic-related disruptions to the workplace had a short-lived negative impact on organizations who have shown a commitment to finding and implementing solutions and interventions that enable employees to engage — and work effectively.

BCG also had this to say about new ways of working: “Understanding the drivers of productivity in this new environment and designing appropriate, sustainable working models are crucial to the success of work.” In fact, employees in their study said that during the pandemic, they have been able to maintain or improve productivity on both their individual and collaborative tasks.

We can be thankful that we have new insights into the advantages of remote working and what it takes to conduct business and keep employees supported and productive across their various individual or team-based daily tasks. We will certainly carry these practices— more flexible schedules that accommodate working from home, for example — into an even more productive and more human post-pandemic world. 

Well-Being Is Having Its Moment 

A workforce culture that values and prioritizes employee well-being, coupled with empathetic leadership and benefits that support the whole person, can actually thrive — not just survive — during these chaotic and uncertain times. We can be thankful for the fact that employers are getting the message that employees can’t (and don’t want to) “go it alone” and are therefore providing more resources to help them cope. 

According to Willis Towers Watson, 89% of employers have put measures in place to ensure that employees feel supported during this time, and a Quantum Workplace survey on the impact of Covid-19 on employee engagement found increases in employees’ perceptions that “Our culture supports my health and well-being” and “My job gives me flexibility to meet the needs of both my work and personal life.”

Effective well-being benefits — the kind that employees will thank you for — include providing resources that help make employees’ lives easier, when, where and how they need it. Importantly, they give employees access to self-care tools they can use to manage stress, beat burnout and perform the daily activities that help them feel their best, from doing a workout video to listening to a calming sleep story.   

Spreading The Gratitude

Employers are clearly doing the right things at a time when people need all the positivity and support they can get. So, keep it up — it’s making a difference!

• Show your gratitude! As discussed in an article by Forbes, leadership experts Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton see gratitude as “one of the easiest, fastest and cheapest ways for managers to boost performance and employee engagement.”

• Strive to understand your employees — and show you care. Continue to survey employees and informally check in with them. Ask them, hear them and act on their insights by introducing new guidelines and tools that build on your successes.

• Celebrate small wins. With so much doom and gloom all year, people need permission to be OK with what they have accomplished under exceptional circumstances. Recently, when Grokker was named one of the Fortune 100 Best Small Workplaces, we sent out cookies to every employee to thank them and celebrate the achievement. 

Moving into the holiday season, keep working toward being an organization that takes action and responds positively, despite the obstacles in our midst — and remember, as long as we have our employees, we have much to be grateful for.


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