There is a reciprocal relationship between employee and employer. According to the Social Exchange Theory (SET), people make decisions measuring the cost and reward of actions and relationships. The hypotheses of recent performance science studies published in “Frontiers in Psychology,” were that work stress due to COVID-19 significantly affects employees’ task performance, contextual performance (managing good relationships) and adaptive performance (adapting to perform consistently).
It is difficult to maintain consistency in operations and service given the uncertainty COVID-19 has created. In addition to job-related stress, people are distracted by the pandemic environment that has affected work patterns, workloads, and relationships. This study supported a culture of safety, especially as it relates to the pandemic, is likely to increase performance. Employers creating a safe physical environment lessen the distraction and improve performance.
Stress reduces our perception, cognition, creativity, and collaboration.
Performance Science supports the notion that psychological safety at work improves employee performance. Psychological safety is built on a sense of belonging and the ability to be oneself at work. That sense of belonging and feeling connected, especially to leaders, has support in the scientific community. Social exchanges taking place in the organization foster trust. Being part of the in-group feels secure.
Retaining employees today requires physical and psychological safety. ServiceNow, an enterprise software and services company that specializes in workflow, invested in learning what their employees wanted. Human Resources, Marketing, and Communications worked together to learn their list included great compensation, a deep connection to their employer and a worthwhile company purpose, a feeling of belonging, and a culture that encourages bringing one’s best self to the job every day.
As a result, ServiceNow rebranded the organization as dedicated to “making the world of work, work better for people.” This company transformed from a technology and engineering focus to a people and customer focus. To retain and motivate their workforce, ServiceNow focused on making it easy and fast to get things done and rewarding people who “stay hungry and humble.” People are treated like adults. The culture supports productivity, with generous work-from-home and time-off policies. Processes are human-centered and growth- and development-focused.
ServiceNow was one of 300 large companies Bain & Company researched to uncover how we should rebuild as we emerge from the pandemic. This research revealed a group of companies building technology-enabled workforces using six similar practices. These practices included defining business-critical roles, redefining what great looks like, using management development to reskill and fill capability gaps, using AI in the HR function, getting everyone engaged with technology, and figuring out what tomorrow’s stars want from their employer.
Though all practices are important, exploring how to retain and attract employees seems paramount in our current environment. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2030. This is the generation that wants meaningful connections, flexible schedules, and purposeful jobs. Employers should figure out their value proposition to attract and retain this generation.