As we continue to experience the prolonged effects of the response to COVID-19, one of the biggest impacts of the changes to how we live and work is on well-being. Since March 2020, we can all relate to having a ‘bad day’, or even a ‘bad week’, that we attributed to COVID-19. Whether that is due to struggling with remote working, being confined to home, experiencing poor connectivity, trying to master home-schooling, or missing the company of friends and family, people have been confronted with challenges they cannot have imagined as they celebrated the new year.

What is well-being?

In its most basic form, well-being is simply how we are feeling. Unlike say, employee engagement, well-being is more prone to short-term change. Think about your personal experiences since the introduction of organisational and societal changes in response to COVID-19. Have you had days, or weeks, when you felt your well-being was better or worse?

It is important to distinguish well-being from resilience, which is our ability to cope with problems and bounce-back quickly. Resilience is directly related to our environment – the flexibility we must have to balance work and personal life, the support we get from colleagues, managers, friends and family, and our confidence in the future. While resilience is typically more stable, this is being tested with the ongoing changes and disruption due to COVID-19. For example, an organisation that seemed rock-solid just a few months ago may be experiencing a downturn that is shredding the confidence of employees in its future.

Why should organisations prioritise well-being and resilience?

Well-being and resilience are drivers of employee engagement and business performance, and this is especially true when we experience significant change and disruption. As many organisations are struggling with unpredictable markets, a focus on well-being and resilience is not only a corporate responsibility, but critical if an organisation is to survive and thrive. At Qualtrics, we have seen well-being and resilience emerge as priority focus areas, across countries and industries.

So, how are organisations responding?

Managers and leaders play a particularly important role during change. Employees look to leaders to guide the organisation and need managers to support them with getting on with their job. Leaders and managers need data and insights, so they can take action to support employee well-being and build resilience, as organisations and society continue to change in response to the pandemic.

HR is taking the lead in reassessing and adapting existing listening and engagement programmes to better understand employee experiences and the factors that can be managed – at all levels of the organisation – to sustain and support well-being and resilience.

As well as adapting existing tools, at Qualtrics we are seeing a massive shift towards more regular employee listening. A trend that was already gathering pace before COVID-19 has been fast-tracked with wide-scale adoption of pulse and always-on surveys. These tools enable leaders and managers to better measure and monitor changing levels of well-being and resilience and bring insights into health, safety, work/life balance, team dynamics, manager effectiveness, communications, and confidence in the future.

While the path out of COVID-19 is not yet clear, the ability of organisations to be agile in when they seek employee feedback, what they ask, and from whom is proving to be key in sustaining well-being and resilience and consequently success through engagement and productivity.