The Journal Gazette
Sunday, August 02, 2020 1:00 am

Opinion of employees tepid amid crisis

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

On an innovation and collaboration scale, employers may not be setting many gold standards.

Results from an online poll show just 25% of U.S. employees say their organization has a culture that fosters employee innovation and collaboration to deal with a crisis – even as many areas are seeing a spike in coronavirus cases and some cities are reimposing shutdown orders.

Thirty-nine percent say their organization has the resilience to withstand the COVID-19 pandemic, while just 35% say their organizations have trusted leaders to navigate the crisis.

Eagle Hill Consulting, which focuses on strategy and performance, said July 23 its latest online poll was conducted by Ipsos. Polls have been taken biweekly since mid-March and included responses from more than 1,000 people. They are based on a random sample of U.S. employees.

In mid-March, 45% of respondents said employers quickly adapted, while 35% credited them with resilience and 32% said they had trusted leaders.

“We've been monitoring employee sentiment since March, and it's concerning that we're not seeing increased confidence,” said Melissa Jezior, president and CEO of Eagle Hill.

“This pandemic isn't going away anytime soon, and low employee confidence will further hamper an organization's ability to steer through the pandemic,” Jezior said. “However, we did find there are steps employers can take to make employees feel safe as they return to the workplace – from providing protective gear and COVID-19 testing to mandating sick employees stay home.”

Video fatigue

Some employees are tired of being on – not at work, per se; they still like having a paycheck. But on video.

“As we do our work remotely and keep our distance from our closest friends and family, meetings are occurring throughout the workday and into the night, but the phenomenon known as 'Zoom fatigue' is a reality,” said Andrew Challenger, an executive with global outplacement and business coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

Zoom is one of the most popular videoconferencing apps, but there are numerous other ways to stay virtually connected. They include FaceTime, Skype, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams and RingCentral, Challenger noted in a July news release.

Use of such technology has exploded since March due to remote working. Employees might not be forced into any more meetings than they had in their traditional workspace, but when video is involved, it can seem more like you have to be conscious of every move and gesture.

So if the video communications are adding to your stress, Challenger suggests switching it up. Try old-fashioned telephone communication, for example. Or maybe just avoid consecutive meetings in a day or slip away for a snack ... and then a walk to burn the extra calories.

Stir it up

Leaders look for ways to bring people together – compromise, if you will. But they can also be agitators – addressing important issues even if it's uncomfortable for some.

Sometimes it's not about seeking calm, but stirring it up – for the greater good.

The stream of tributes the past week through print, broadcast and social media to the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis were informative, inspirational and at times, emotional – especially the video of him being carried in a horse-drawn carriage across the now infamous Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. That is where Lewis suffered a skull fracture because of how law enforcement responded to a 1965 march for voting rights, a day that became known as Bloody Sunday.

Lewis, 80, died July 17, leaving a legacy of peacefully fighting injustice through social activism and policy making while maintaining humility and genuine concern for people – connecting often with those who had no fancy title or VIP status, according to those who knew him.

In this season of renewed unrest about racial injustice, true leaders should remember a strategy fondly associated with Lewis: Don't be afraid to make some “good trouble.”

To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at Lead On also appears online as a blog at

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