Amalgex Group

Summary. There’s still uncertainty about what the workplace new normal will be, and it’s easy for companies to default to old routines and habits. Based on their extensive research on psychological contracts, idiosyncratic deals, and leadership, the authors present three…

As businesses continue to feel their way into a post-pandemic world and plan for a new normal, managers and organizational leaders are dealing with a number of immediate and near-term decisions. And big questions remain: How can I motivate my employees while balancing work from home and safe return-to-work policies? Is there a way to get employees to be creative and come up with innovative ideas to help them and the organization navigate the uncharted workplace reality? If you’re considering questions like these, what you’re really asking is: How do I help my employees thrive?

Employee thriving is a psychological state in which they feel that they can adapt, evolve, and even transform themselves. Researchers have found thriving employees to be passionate about their work and are willing to continually “show up and be counted.” These qualities are essential not only as a buffer for stress and uncertainty, but they’re also potentially a secret weapon in responding and succeeding in uncertain times.

Most managers would agree that the Covid-19 pandemic has been an extreme event: A low-probability but high-consequence occurrence. When the pandemic first hit, none of us had a clear reference to compare it to — we had to navigate our jobs without a roadmap. Now, as we emerge into a post-pandemic reality, one thing is certain: Viewing the pandemic as a “one-off,” never-to-happen-again event is a significant missed opportunity to learn to succeed in future extreme events, which surely will come (hopefully not in the form of a global pandemic).

Contrary to common belief, your employees focus less on how the crisis unfolded and more on how your organization responded to it. Therefore, it’s critical to attend to how they interpreted your actions — and inactions. Our extensive research on psychological contracts, idiosyncratic deals, and leadership identified three organizational strategies you should use to develop thriving employees: recalibrate expectations, reestablish commitment, and rebuild capacity. Before you can implement these “three Re’s,” you need to understand employee sensemaking.

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