COVID-19 has changed life as we know it, and it has taken a toll on the mental health of employees. According to a Workhuman® employee pulse survey, since the pandemic began, 42 percent of workers said they have felt a sense of loneliness and isolation once a week or more often, and 10 percent said they felt lonely every day. As we live through these unprecedented times, the power of human connection is more important than ever.
Connected culture in action
The power of connection is an inherent need, and when communities come together, they can have a massive impact. It starts with lifting each other up with genuine recognition, seeing the good in everyone, and saying thank you. A grateful mindset provides vast emotional, physical and social benefits, such as being more alert, a stronger immune system and even helping combat feelings of isolation and loneliness.
On a recent SHRM webinar, “Boosting Morale and Community: Merck’s Story,” representatives from Workhuman and our customer Merck shared some statistics:
- Workers who have been thanked for their work in the past 30 days report experiencing significantly less stress versus their other hardworking peers;
- Workers thanked in the last month at companies that have been through stress in the last year are nearly two times as likely to trust in their company’s leadership team; and
- Regions of the world especially affected by the novel coronavirus initially saw a small dip in workplace gratitude, but now are experiencing a resurgence. For example, gratitude in Italy is up 20 percent over historical trends.
Merck also shared that its recognized new hires are more than five times less likely to leave within the first year. Recognition data unlocks talent insights and provides leaders with a window into how work gets done, day in and day out, within and across teams. Merck has had one million recognition moments – that adds up to millions of data points that can be analyzed to gain deeper insight into organizational trends that transcend the traditional reporting hierarchy and the human connections that motivate and inspire people, which ultimately drives business forward. In other words, it can tell you how work is getting done.
With most of us torn away from routine, family, friends and the activities we love, it’s no surprise that April research from AEI found that 53 percent of Americans report having felt lonely or isolated at least once in the past seven days. People who are still working have had to pivot in more ways than one, and it’s up to us as leaders to provide the connection they need to remain focused, to collaborate, and to do world-changing work for our organizations.
It’s important for leaders to stay in tune with employees and listen to their concerns as everyone adapts to the changes in work styles. Employee pulse surveys – such as the free Moodtracker™ from Workhuman – are an agile, modern way to tap into the heartbeat of an organization, and truly understand the voice of the employee. It enables HR and team leads to quickly collect ongoing employee feedback, diagnose organizational issues and know what actions to take next.
Strong cultures, strong companies
Peer-to-peer employee recognition is so powerful, so cost-efficient, and so needed at this time of disconnect and uncertainty. Not because the company is recognizing people’s efforts, but because individual employees are taking the time – even amid the whirlwinds of change we’re all facing – to recognize each other. Company leaders are remaining forward-thinking enough to see that teams need space to bond, especially now, even when the managers aren’t looking. And because recognition is a cure for isolation, the positivity it generates can call humans to greatness and realign them to shared purpose.
Recognition programs are preserving and strengthening connections every day. This truly is an opportunity to double down on strategies that attract, retain and inspire your humans – not shy away from them. Amazing work cultures built on trust don’t just spring up overnight. They come from amplifying the voice of your employees, asking questions relevant to today’s workforce, and taking the right action. Leaders can use employee pulse surveys and other HR technologies to stay in tune with employees in a world of work that will be changed forever post COVID-19.
Chris French is the Executive Vice President, Customer Strategy at Workhuman.