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Rich Gallagher: Embrace change to accomplish important work
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Rich Gallagher: Embrace change to accomplish important work

From the Shining stars: Meet the Madison area's Top Workplaces series
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We have found ourselves in unprecedented times. Companies are under enormous pressure, especially to maintain their engagement with their employees. Employees themselves are under amazing personal and professional stress.

It feels like we need to deliver hard, important work right now. It’s amazing because in a matter of days, across the world, everything changed.

If we’re really willing to be honest, it’s not a single change. It’s a progression. It’s a cascade of continuous changes. We have no idea what the extent of these changes will be or whether this whole notion of “normal” will ever find itself back into our lives.

Rich Gallagher

Rich Gallagher

Organizations are incredibly transformed right now, transfixed. They had to significantly reset their approach to their business, understanding how to execute their business with new terms like “contactless” and all the things that supported that.

We’ve seen that translate into the challenges for employee engagement in a number of different ways. It has absolutely stretched and strained a company’s relationship with its employees.

It represents a real opportunity to acknowledge who we are. If companies take the right actions, they can get to the other side of this, whatever that “other side” looks like.

It’s about embracing that things are different. You can’t change it. You can’t just wait for things to return. It’s about acknowledging the conditions and resetting your ideas around terminology.

Employees are seeing communications in their business now stronger than ever. We also see that they’re struggling with interdepartmental coordination.

Companies have to acknowledge that. It isn’t just about supporting the information flow from top to bottom. They also have to make sure that they understand departments have to talk with each other and coordinate with each other now that everybody’s virtualized.

In our ability to solicit or otherwise receive unsolicited feedback from employees, companies are opening options. They’re engaging over personal emails, not just over the corporate email. They’re embracing established technologies, when before they would have restricted the channels or otherwise limited them.

From what we see in our research, employees appear to be increasingly loyal, especially respectful to what companies are doing to support them. We also see that, in this difficult time, employees are seeking meaningfulness in the work that they do. With all this turmoil and trouble in the world, they want the work they’re doing to matter. They’re challenging themselves and challenging their companies, too.

What employees appear to be saying is, “Let’s do important work. Let’s adjust our business to be part of the greater good to help, not exploit the situation, but give back in many ways to the situation.”

Rich Gallagher is chief product officer at Energage, a Philadelphia-based employee survey firm. Energage is the Wisconsin State Journal’s partner for Top Workplaces.

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