These are uncertain times for many people, including employees.
Will they have a job next week? Will they work from home next month or will they be called back into the office? Will continuing to work remotely hurt their careers? Will they be given pay raises this year or be able to take time off? Do they even want to do what they're doing anymore?
A new report by McKinsey & Co. stresses that during these uncertain times, it's important that employees have a sense of individual purpose "that helps people face up to uncertainties and navigate them better, and thus mitigate the damaging effects of long-term stress. People who have a strong sense of purpose tend to be more resilient and exhibit better recovery from negative events."
One of the suggestions from the report includes leaders talking to employees individually to help workers better understand their own purpose (most people have a tough time articulating their own purpose).
Once that purpose is understood (helping the poor, saving the planet, alleviating suffering, etc.), then the leader can help the employee see how his or her contribution to the organization can also serve their purpose. Sometimes that alignment isn't always perfect, or not at all. In that case, leaders may need to re-think how they hire or how employees are placed in certain jobs to ensure that there is better alignment for all workers, McKinsey researchers say.
"The pandemic has been a cruel reminder for companies everywhere of how important it is to never take healthy or motivated employees for granted. Since individual purpose directly affects both health and motivation, forward-looking companies will be focusing on purpose as part of a broader effort to ensure that talent is given the primacy it deserves," researchers write.
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