COVID has imposed one of the most significant changes in the global economy, and most companies are not ready for what is yet to come. I'm not talking about working from home situation, but about employees' engagement. People suffer during this pandemic, and they will not be the same, even after the vaccine. This generation will live with this memory, so companies need to acknowledge the pandemic's impact on their lives.
One lesson we can learn from the 1929 crisis is that people who lived the great depression are risk-averse due to what they suffered, as Malcolm Gladwell pointed out in his book "The Outliers". Living through a pandemic, almost a year under lockdown is scary, and it will also impact how we face daily challenges. We can't understand or feel this change now, but most of it is happing in our subconsciousness. After months of pandemic, social isolation and uncertainty, we will seek more stability.
Personal and Organizational stability matters
Organizational stability is getting more important, but personal also matters. To offer personal stability, companies can provide fair wages, for example, so collaborators don't need to be afraid of not paying the bills, e.g. Unfortunately, that's not enough.
Organizational stability is not related to having your job assured no matter what. It is about role clarity, timely feedback, adequate resource allocation, and attention to how our work is structured. Google recently released some findings of its Project Aristotle, which aimed to build the perfect team. The Googlers found out that Psychological safety was the primary factor in team success.
Psychological safety is the "shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking", according to Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson.
To create such an environment, people need to form bonds with each other. Teammates don't need to be friends, but they need to be comfortable within the group. Every group has its psychological contract, an unspoken agreement or set of promises about what we expect about the relations within that group. Those contracts are not equal for each group; it relies on its member beliefs. Unfortunately, if this contract is damaged, it is hard to fix it, so companies better take care of it. Project Aristotle pointed out that it is more critical to build experiences based on emotional interactions than optimize performance.
It's wise to look inward and first consider the psychological constructs that enable and enhance the work environment's stability. It is even more important to break the inertia of offering hygienic factors, such as high monetary bonuses, free services on the campus, or an extensive range of meaningless swags and expect more motivating and productive employees. It's time to change how companies recognize their teams.