Check Your Rearview Before Claiming A Crisis Is Over

We recently checked in with some of our senior clients and heard a variation of the phrase, “The crisis is over.” But after speaking with our users in middle management and on the frontlines of organizations, different experiences were left behind, far from it.

Levi Goertz
/
September 11, 2020

Our recent data shows a significant minority of non-executive employees are still struggling as they deal with the ongoing effects of the pandemic:

  • The average workday has increased 20% (an extra 96 minutes to be exact)
  • Weekend work has increased three fold
  • 45% of people are reporting burn out

So why, then, did we find the phrase “The crisis is over” popular amongst our senior clients? It’s being used as a buzz statement about the economic outlook for a given company. 

What doesn’t follow this statement are the urgent consequences of people being left behind,  and the realization that those on your team could be caught up in this very mix. 

Left unchecked, you could be facing decreased productivity for months on end, a culture of mental health challenges and your high performers jumping ship. For the sake of your team, you need to know why and how to look back to make things right.

Trading the macro for the micro

Calling the peak of the pandemic over is rooted in the view that even if the outlook is bleak, it’s much less uncertain than it was before. Here executives have planned appropriately, so things are generally more stable. With growth prospects ahead, why would the future not be bright, right? Wrong.

As more executives are announcing the end of the crisis with their company's future on the up and up, we spoke to middle managers and frontline staff where this clearly isn't the case. The disconnect between higher ups and their workform is clear:

  • Working at home has led to longer work hours negatively impacting work-life balance
  • Companies that have had either a surge or drop in demand now have employees constantly working with widespread burnout
  • Many parents are still dealing with kids at home even with a new back to school normal in full swing
  • Newer employees are virtually onboarded never having met their teammates in person and are operating with weak personal relationships and less trust
  • Creative problem solving is harder to achieve and some teams that need to innovate aren’t as effective as they were before

While senior leadership may be right about macroeconomic conditions on the horizon, everything isn’t okay. What’s critical for great leaders is the need to turn around and see that the very people at the heart of their organization may still be operating in adverse conditions.

Explore options early and often

For your teammates finding it difficult under these circumstances, look for signs early on and be the colleague who they feel safe to open up to. Offering a listening ear, a more flexible schedule, extra vacation if possible, or more coaching and resources is a great place to start. 

They say hindsight is 20/20. But the sign of a strong leader is looking back now to support and protect a company’s greatest assets - their people.

And if you’re an executive sitting in your home office excited about the positive macroeconomic outlook, remember that the people who’ll get you there may not be seeing things the same way you are. Make sure to pause and turn around before claiming a crisis is truly over.

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