What The Pandemic Is Teaching Us About Employee Experience

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Briana Biancolin

Earlier this year, we experienced a remarkable shift at work. COVID-19 caused the economy to nearly screech to a halt. Employees were left in limbo while employers scrambled to pivot their businesses to suit a remote model for the safety of their staff and security of their organization. 

Following this destabilizing period was the collective awakening and grieving for George Floyde, who lost his life due to needless police brutality. Suddenly, there was another tidal wave of hopelessness, grief, and outrage. 

Employees are no longer focused on ping-pong tables and in-office yoga, but instead want to know how their jobs and futures are protected.

Let’s look more deeply into the impact these events have had on teams and the first steps to meaningful solutions.

Red Flag Symptoms

We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge. Paying attention to the following symptoms will serve as indicators as to how your team is doing. 


Burnout often results from work that is highly demanding with little control, according to Bloomberg. With increased uncertainty surrounding job security, this has been exasperated. 

Symptoms manifest in a lack of energy, apathy towards work, and productivity loss. 

Depending on how employees are affected by the current unpredictability, burnout comes from added responsibilities in balancing work and home life, decision fatigue, and information (and emotion) overload. 

With employees working from home, it can be difficult for them to know when to shut off without commuting to the office, punctuating the start and end of the workday. This perceived lack of productivity can lead to a downturn in employee self-esteem.

A random sample of 1,099 American workers by SHRM reports that “over 2 in 5 employees feel burned out, drained, or exhausted from work.” This same study confirms a widespread issue—a whopping 41% of employees feel burned out, which could be easily missed if employees keep their symptoms ‘off-screen’ and well-hidden for fear of losing their job.

Distress in Isolation

With many employees working remotely full-time, it’s a major adjustment from their regular routine. 

This is especially true for new hires who now find themselves left to learn a new role from home. Employees who are at home with a vulnerable member of the community may also feel distracted or distressed without a safe outlet to express it. 

Pre-pandemic, it was far easier to reach out to colleagues for support in-person. Now, communication is overly-scheduled and narrowly focused on business activities. 

An inclusive culture means working towards destigmatizing the various mental health burdens that have surfaced throughout the last few months.

First Step Solutions

There is a whole host of ways to expand awareness of the diversity of experiences that are happening within your teams, and yet, employee experience needs to be more than a high-level concept. 

Your team wants to see the results firsthand. Here are two actionable steps that you can do right now.

Educate Yourself 

An inclusive culture requires an informed approach to communication with affected employees. Join webinars, keep up with articles and credible blogs, and hire experienced DEI (Diversity Equity Inclusion) consultants. It won’t be an overnight success, so try to be patient.

Rather than relying on non-white employees to come to the table and teach you, provide a culture of safety where employees can communicate feedback on their terms. And then, when they speak up, listen to them.

If you need more support on how to take action to create a culture rooted in diversity, equity and inclusion, join our webinar.

Support Staff with the Right Technology

The fourth industrial revolution has brought forward technology that enhances DEI efforts. That said, the World Economic Forum reports that research shows certain technologies enhance bias rather than counteract it. 

Seek out tried and true technologies like Greenhouse, Teamable, and Textio that address bias in job postings and neutralize unconscious bias during the hiring process. 

Benchmark the company’s success with AI-powered analytics software like Pipeline or Scout. 

Enhance DEI training with managers using behavioural assessments like the Harvard Implicit Bias or Trustsphere. 

Be discerning about which technologies you onboard by doing your research. Talk to peers within your industry about the technologies they use in their business to support DEI and why they made those selections. Review the DEI policies of the technology companies you’re researching to ensure that their services are being offered from an informed place. 

Employee Experience Starts Here

Forbes predicts that 2020 will result in a 50% increase in focus on employee experience. 

 This year has shaken up how most organizations function. Now employers are less focused on abstract concepts like “holistic engagement” but are instead actively seeking concrete ways to support their team through this shift to “the new normal.”

Start with building an emotional connection with employees. Take well-informed, actionable steps towards a more inclusive employee experience. This alone will allow for a diversity of experiences to be acknowledged and supported, which has far-reaching benefits for your employees and how they experience their work.

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