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More Evidence Workplace Connections Are Being Impacted by COVID

By Steven Buck

Engagement technology expert Steven Buck discusses the impact COVID-19 is having on workplace connections and details practical ways to help employees feel more connected.

September 17 2020 - Since March, Glint has been keeping track on how the people working for its global customers are faring. The latest results are just in, and they show an increase in signs of employees feeling less connected to leaders and teammates as the pandemic persists.

Glint has been compiling a database of 5 million pandemic response points via employee mini-surveys or 'pulses' across a broad range of industries. Most recently, the surveys looked at themes of: How employees feel about returning to the office; what staff needs are for working in the 'new normal'; and lockdown's impact on employees' human connections, both inside and outside their immediate teams.

One major insight that emerged from the data is that while employees still feel largely positive about how their organisation is handling the crisis, they are definitely starting to show signs of pandemic fatigue. The respondents tended to answer a lot less favourably to survey questions around distress - with the most marked decreases showing in the topics of communication and connection.

Employees also say relationships both at work and outside of work continue to be impacted by shielding arrangements and ongoing remote-work arrangements. Compared to their lives before the pandemic, the data shows that:

  • 31% feel less connected to their leaders
  • 37% feel less connected to their teammates
  • 40% feel less connected to their friends

By contrast, 48% of respondents report feeling more connected to their family members.

Reassuringly, both employees and managers are largely aligned in what they say their top concerns are when it comes to a possible large-scale return to the physical office. Staying healthy and safe in the workplace is the main priority for both, followed by safely commuting to work and the recognition from their organisations that they will still need to care for children and family members.

Many are interested in more employee-sponsored support for mental health and well-being. We saw some differences among age groups, with 24-38-year-olds asking for this support the most, while those 54 years of age and older asking for it the least. Four out of five employees are signalling an interest in a work arrangement that is not exclusively office-based. Employees also cited more support for work-life balance and advancements in technology to facilitate contact as necessary elements in this new world of work.

Ensuring you get the most current understanding of your team's needs

What should HR leaders feel about this data? That there are tools and techniques to help. There are tried-and-true ways organisations can help boost connection among their people. Even in normal circumstances, managers need to communicate with their teams; these unprecedented working conditions make it all the more critical to keep in touch with how your people are doing, and what support they need to work effectively.

Be proactive and make sure you keep conversations going with your teams and find out what's worrying them. Regular check-ins are the best way to facilitate actions based on survey insights, as they build trust, ensure effective prioritisation, surface issues, and prompt interventions.

By keeping connection and wellbeing concerns a key focus, as you reimagine your organisation's future, you can make the return to the workplace as positive and productive as possible.

About the author

Steven Buck

Steven Buck is Head of People Science, EMEA, at employee engagement leader Glint, part of LinkedIn.



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