How times of crisis can bring teams closer together

In times of crisis, there are some people that stand up to be counted and meet the challenge head-on. And it looks like during this pandemic, most organisations are taking that mantle.

By: Sinead Healy on

Research from Willis Towers Watson shows that companies are working in overdrive to do everything they can help their people. In some cases, they’re treating employees better than ever. The result? Engagement actually looks to be improving.

In their Covid-19 survey, 95% of employees said senior leaders were demonstrating a sincere interest in the wellbeing and safety of staff, whilst 76% noted that collaboration and organisation had improved. That’s even when seven in 10 workers are experiencing increased anxiety and also expect the ‘new normal’ of home working to become just the ‘norm’.

So how is it that times of rapid change and challenge can bring teams closer together and even improve employee engagement - especially against the backdrop of health and financial worry for millions?

A unifying purpose

It is not uncommon within organisations for people to be unaware of what the overall mission is. Whilst the best companies in the world have mission statements and core values which are fantastic at aligning stakeholders, this is often the exception and not the norm.

But during a time of crisis, everyone has a new, unifying goal - to survive. Survival is the strongest human instinct and is incredibly powerful at bonding people together to collaborate and problem-solve their way out of a crisis. It provides a clear focus, aligns thinking and creates a single target for the entire organisation. Everyone is pulling together and working as one to meet the new challenges presented by the crisis.

Crisis management is a team activity, and everyone has a key role to play.

Increased focus on helping others

As the research from Willis Towers Watson demonstrates, the pandemic has supercharged what were already becoming people-oriented companies into organisations dedicated to helping their people. Managers are intently focused on ensuring employees are safe and taking time out to make wellbeing check-up calls too.

In fact, almost nine in 10 companies are putting in place specific measures to ensure people feel supported and a third of firms are surveying staff in response to Covid-19, ensuring employees have a voice and issues can be picked up and resolved.

A positive culture shift

Crisis brings change, and culture is one area that can change for the better as a result. The WTW report also highlighted how 63% of HR professionals believe their organisational culture has improved as a result of their response to the pandemic, whilst 55% said employee experience had improved.

Remarkably, over half even said that the wellbeing of staff had gotten better.

These are incredible numbers for which no in-work initiative would have such a great impact. It’s taken an external challenge, the scale of which may not be seen again for another generation, to bring people together, unifying purpose and altering the face of leadership from directorial decision-makers to chief empathy officers.

Read more: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: still relevant in 2020?

And the result has been profound. The increased focus on checking in on team members, making time for face-to-face contact through video calls and prioritizing work relationships are building resiliency, strengthening professional bonds and changing the focus from productivity and performance to wellness and togetherness.