COVID-19 – Subcultures, resilience and the impact of COVID-19

When my team and I set out to create Friday Pulse, we never planned for it to pick up on global trends. Yet, the client data from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic showed a dramatic curve  – one that could be found in every single organization across the board.

May 15, 2020 4 mins read

When my team and I set out to create Friday Pulse, we never planned for it to pick up on global trends. At its best, Friday Pulse is a tool for building positive experiences across the varied micro and subcultures of an organization. It uses the team as its focus for increasing employee wellbeing because our data showed that there are nearly as many microcultures in an organization as there are teams. It’s the blending of all of these disparate cultures that creates the work experience.

One of the core features of Friday Pulse is that it gathers data on how people are feeling at work. We ask employees to document their experience every week which, in turn, gives senior leaders real-time information on how every team across their organization is faring. Friday Pulse provides actionable insights for team leaders every week. This helps to build a better work experience across microcultures.

There’s a growing body of proof of why a positive culture is crucial to the success of a business. But that’s not why we focus on happiness and how people are feeling at work. Happy people do better work. They’re healthier, and less likely to leave.  They’re more creative and productive. These are things that ultimately impact the bottom line.

Stories in the curve

When COIVD-19 hit, our platform’s data found a trend across all our clients in every industry at the same time. The graph below shows the impact of the virus on employee experience.

Some of this is obvious — holiday highs in December, lows in March because of the shock of social distancing and remote working. However, it’s the shape of this curve that is interesting to me. We’ve seen this type of curve when a team or organization encounters a setback. However, we have never seen this across all of our clients at the same moment in time. In our experience, these curves are painful — they reflect times when clients have had to make redundancies or deal with existential crises.

Now, the curve indicates a little bounce-back as we’re stumbling on our road to recovery. There are dips ahead and we’re still a long way off from the pre-COVID average score of 69.6 (out of 100). It’s important to realize these dips in team morale have a negative impact on productivity, collaboration and innovation.

One caveat about the graph — it’s not a representative sampling of businesses. These are our clients — organizations that were already actively monitoring weekly experiences because they know how high team morale builds better businesses. They regularly act on their data. It is, therefore, quite probable that the resilience and bounce back shown in this curve is stronger in our clients than the majority of the business world

That said, the data is highly illustrative. It tells a human story of people trying their best to cope in challenging circumstances. What is also clear is that there is a great variety in how individuals, teams and organizations are coping (or not). It’s dangerous to assume that when everyone is quiet that all is well — people can be suffering in silence.

How teams are coping differently

The graphic below illustrates the multitude of different team experiences in the last two months. From it you can see a broad range of variability at the personal level.

Again, much of this makes sense. Some people with emotional and financial stability in their home lives are coping very well. Others, perhaps with young children, have multiple stresses. For certain, the effects of this crisis do not land evenly which means that responses have to be nuanced as well. Because of the broad range of experiences and subcultures that exist in an organization, a blanket response will likely be unsuccessful.

The curve over time illustrates human resilience. It shows that people want to bounce back. In fact, some of our clients have bounced back and are better than ever. It is possible to weather the storm and come out on top. Disruption in team morale can be costly and it takes a concerted effort to combat it. One thing is for certain: our clients succeeded because they tracked their team’s data and took appropriate actions when needed.

Here to help

Friday Pulse is the only platform designed to help teams build resiliency and increase employee wellbeing. During this pandemic period, my team and I are committed to helping businesses build better work cultures and improve employee morale. That’s why, we are offering companies and teams (50 – 1,000 employees) free access to our Friday Pulse people platform for 12 weeks.

For more information on how we can help your organization weather the crisis please contact my colleague Clive Steer at [email protected]