Engagement technology expert Steven Buck discusses how to manage the growing negative impact of lockdown, with employees reporting marked decreases in their sense of connection with colleagues


Since March, Glint has been compiling a superset of 5 million survey responses from employees around the world, across a broad range of industries. And this August report reflects the growing negative impact of lockdown, with respondents reporting that although they still feel largely positive about how their organisation is handling the crisis, they are starting to feel pandemic fatigue.


Employees are showing signs of feeling less connected to their leaders and teammates as the COVID-19 pandemic persists, according to the latest data insights report.


Employees and managers are aligned


Respondents are reporting greater distress, with the most marked decreases showing in the topics of communication and connection. Employees’ relationships both at work and outside of work continue to be impacted by shielding and ongoing remote-work arrangements. Compared to their lives before the pandemic hit in early 2020, the data shows:


  • 31% of employees feel less connected to their leaders
  • 37% feel less connected to teammates
  • 40% feel less connected to their workplace friends
  • 48% of employees report feeling more connected to their family members.


Juggling childcare, unfamiliar IT, and remote working while trying to keep our families safe and educated has been stressful enough these past few months of lockdown. Now offices are opening up and the return, albeit partial, to physical workplaces presents another new potential source of stress for employees.


It’s notable that both employees and managers are largely aligned in their top concerns as they consider their return to the workplace. Staying healthy and safe in the workplace is the main concern for both, followed by safely commuting to work and still needing to care for children or family members.


Many of the employees who spoke to our researchers also say they are interested in more company support for mental health and wellbeing, with 24-38-year-olds asking for it the most and those 54 years of age and older asking for it the least.


Keep taking the organisational ‘pulse’


Even in normal circumstances, managers need to communicate with their teams, and these unusual working conditions make it all the more critical to keep in touch with how your people are doing and what support they need to work effectively.


Make sure you keep talking to your teams and finding what’s worrying them. Regular check-ins are the best way to facilitate actions based on survey insights, as they build trust, ensure effective prioritisation, surface issues, and prompt ongoing interventions.


On a positive note, while employees are suffering from a lack of connection right now, they are also reporting a marked preference for more flexibility at work. Our survey shows that 4 out of 5 of employees are interested in a work arrangement that is not exclusively office-based. Many workers also flagged more support for work-life balance — plus an openness to technology as a way to facilitate connection and support in this new post-lockdown work reality.


To help us adjust to our new common work situations, it’s important for organisational leaders and managers to take these steps. By keeping connection and wellbeing concerns front of mind, we can make the return to the office as safe and productive as possible.


The author is Head of People Science, EMEA, at employee engagement leader Glint, part of LinkedIn