The sudden change and ongoing unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic measures has left everyone unsettled. It’s changed the way we live and work, and will have a far-reaching impact. What do workforces need from leadership now? How can you help your people build resilience—the ability to adapt?

If ever there was a time to show up as our very best human selves and leaders, it’s now. The full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on lives, businesses and economies is uncounted as of yet, but the predictions are potentially dire. What’s needed now, more than ever, is human resilience—the ability to adapt. How can leaders help their people build that resilience?

Globally, companies are still trying to determine how to change the way they work, short- and long-term. But speed is of the essence as our workforces and communities try to function and perform while struggling to cope with what is happening in their daily lives. Accenture’s research offers some practical insights that we can apply right now.

Accenture workforce research spans more than 15,000 global workers in 10 countries and 15 industries. It highlights what workers need from leaders in three basic areas: physical, mental and relational. While these needs apply at all times, they are magnified in crisis. Leaders who rise to the challenge can help their people develop human resilience.

Workers surveyed in our research shared two overarching needs that take precedence over all else:

  • A leadership team that is focused on compassion and the care of its people.
  • Confidence in their company’s capabilities to navigate the future.

While businesses may not have all the answers, it’s important to have a plan and be transparent about what’s driving decisions. A leadership team that looks ahead proactively, and responds rather than reacts, goes a long way toward helping people in volatile times.

Addressing people’s physical, mental and relational needs—and there is an order in which they make the biggest difference—lays the foundation for trust. Physical needs must come first. When people are empowered to take care of themselves and their families, are assured of their safety, it becomes easier to focus on productivity or a new way of working.

PHYSICAL needs are people’s needs to feel secure and safe. Workers in our study said:

  • Empower me to take responsibility for my health and well-being.
  • Provide a working environment where I feel safe.

MENTAL needs are people’s needs to build psychological resilience. Workers said:

  • Give me permission to work differently so I can achieve the productivity that helps my mental health.
  • Communicate early and often the information I need to do my job, so I can respond to change with resilience.

RELATIONAL needs are people’s needs for connection and belonging. This is what workers in our study said:

  • Show me my connection to our larger mission and purpose, to give me a sense of mission and belonging.
  • Provide me with the tools and ways of working that will help me co-create in our new reality.

As every organization’s workforce, culture and resources are different, there is no one approach that will work for every company. Accenture has, however, identified 10 actions that businesses can take now to help their people address the now, and prepare for the next. Join me next time as I explore these 10 actions.

Meanwhile, for more on this topic, click through to Human Resilience—What your People Need Now.

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