As virtual events become a way of life for many of us, we’re finding rich new opportunities to share insight and experiences across the business community.

With the challenges around leadership and engagement top of the agenda for so many organisations as we adapt to new ways of working, the series of webinars run by the Corporate Research Forum (CRF) have provided a timely and powerful forum for discussion.

As panellists on the recent the Engagement Though the Crisis webinar, we were pleased to discuss the ways that engagement has changed during the current crisis, and to address the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for organisations facing a return to some semblance of normal working patterns as lockdown eases.

It’s clear that what engagement means to people has changed – and rapidly so. In particular, it includes some elements that we all previously took for granted, namely the need to ‘keep me safe’ and ‘keep my family safe’.

It’s also clear that wellbeing must become a top priority for organisations as we emerge from the crisis to a new ‘normal’. Increased working from home, coupled with the fact that many people now have additional caring responsibilities, and many have potential vulnerability to COVID-19, means more employees are reporting ‘burn-out’.

The discussions we had clearly showed the need for organisations to address the new challenges they face to support their workforce, and to adapt their engagement practices for the long term.

Our client, FTSE100 insurer Direct Line Group (DLG), explained to webinar attendees how they’ve done exactly this in partnership with us. Together we have created a light-touch, agile, iterative engagement programme that provides DLG with timely insight allowing them to make adjustments quickly – an approach that has been well-received by both leaders and managers and that has had a hugely positive impact on business continuity.

Despite companies like DLG making such rapid, quick-response changes, the key takeaway from the webinar for us was that, while we all understand that leadership actions and behaviours are now more important than ever, leaders often feel unprepared for the challenges they now face.

Our own research supports this – and it’s not just leaders who are unprepared.

During the webinar, we shared some headline findings from our recent YouGov ‘Return to Work’ Survey. With over half of UK workers are not comfortable returning to work, it’s clear there is much work to be done to understand and act on the often-complex concerns of employees.

Organisations need to do more to understand their unique employee populations, not just as the crisis continues, but as we move beyond it. How they can do this will form the basis of our own follow-up webinar – more details of which will follow shortly.

We’ll share our experience of working with a wide range of clients to make significant improvements to the success of their listening programs at this time, and to their wider employee engagement measures. Watch this space for further details. If you can’t wait and would like your organisation to start taking the next step towards a new, agile engagement programme, get in touch today.