The Great Reconnection in a World of Layoffs, Recession, and Uncertainty

As companies worldwide brace themselves for what has been touted as the Great Resignation, many companies are re-orienting their strategies in retaining exceptional talent, keeping employees happy, meeting their needs, and also making valiant efforts in seeing eye-to-eye–after all, they drive the business. As we work towards the great reconnection, what can companies do differently?

It almost feels like employees across industries saw their workplaces for what it was–a transactional relationship. But, companies have always tried, in many ways, in their own ways, to make employees feel like they are cherished, they are family, and that their mental and emotional well-being is important. More so, when the pandemic hit. For employees at all different levels and verticals, suddenly adjusting to the nitty-gritty of home life and working from the confines of their home wasn’t an easy feat. Overnight, our lives changed.

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Are anxiety and stress here to stay?

As an unwarranted and unexpected ramification of the work-from-home set-up, many fell into depressive moods, punctuated by high levels of anxiety and stress. Oracle in collaboration with Workplace Intelligence’s Report Ai@Work Study 2020, As Uncertainty Remains, Anxiety and Stress Reaching a Tipping Point At Work sheds light on the dismal headspace employees are finding themselves in. 

Some key findings of the report show that: 

  • 78% said that the pandemic negatively affected their mental health. 
  • 85% said their mental health issues are affecting their quality of sleep, relationships, physical health, and happiness at home.
  • 76% said that the companies they work for should do more to protect the mental health of their employees. 

So, it should come as no surprise that seven out of 10 respondents in the survey said that 2020 was the most stressful year for their careers and in their work life. And, four out of 10 said that they were finding it difficult to cope with everyday stressors like unreasonable workload, pressure to meet performance standards, and being sucked into the lull of routine and tedious tasks. 

What does come as a surprise is how isolated employees feel with their colleagues and, more so, with their managers. 82% of the respondents (12,000 employees including managers, HR leaders, and C-Level Executives across 11 countries) believe that robots are better able to support their mental health than humans and 68% would rather talk to a robot over their manager about how they are stressed and anxious at work.

Respondents between 22-25 years of age accounted for 89% who admitted that the pandemic negatively impacted their mental health. India reported one of the highest percentages that reported feeling stressed at 81%.

25% of all the respondents attributed feeling burned out from overwork as a result of the pandemic. Even as we gear to put the pandemic behind us, it’s safe to say that nothing will ever be the same. The pandemic, as we know it, may never say its goodbyes, much like how stress and anxiety have become an everyday, yet unfortunate reality for many workers. 

This begs the question. Are our employers doing enough or are they happy turning a deaf ear to people’s problems and is the great reconnection still just a term on paper?

What can companies do better to welcome the great reconnection? 

  • Help employees find purpose beyond their jobs 

According to a FlexJobs Survey, remote and flexible work options continue to be the drawing card as 65% of respondents wanted full-time remote work profiles while 32% preferred a hybrid work model. A whopping 97% desired some form of remote work. Yet, there’s another way to give employees what they want besides remote work options. 

As millennials take over and Gen Z carve a niche for themselves in the workplace landscape, it’s high time companies ramp up their corporate social responsibility initiatives. Submittable’s report, Millennials, Gen Z, and the Rising Demand for Corporate Social Responsibility shows that 53% of the respondents said a job that makes an impact contributes to their happiness quotient. 35% would even accept a 15% pay cut to work for a company that takes its CSR activities seriously. 

  • Upskill and reskill 

With attrition rates at an all-time high, companies are struggling to retain and discover talent. In a climate that’s rife with poaching and headhunters working overtime, companies must stop to evaluate their workforce’s strengths and assess how to leverage them while also keeping a keen eye on their weaknesses to enable them with better resources and learning opportunities. With technological developments taking over how we work and function, employees are left with no other choice but to adapt. Enabling reskilling opportunities for employees will help them learn new skills to perform different jobs. 

Upskilling initiatives, too, now must take a front seat as it helps employees learn additional skills to further their tasks in their profile. Either way, it’s an excellent step in reaffirming and placing more trust in the employees and a win-win situation in bridging the skills gap. 

  • Foster a transparent environment 

A Harvard Business Review states that 70% of workers feel most engaged in their job when senior management or leadership openly communicates with them. Building and implementing a clear line of communication with employees helps boost morale and employees feel a sense of trust. Yet, this isn’t the only parameter for openness. 

The gender pay gap is one of the biggest issues plaguing every workplace. On average, women make 20% less than their male counterparts, according to The World Economic Forum’s Gender Report 2021. Bridging this gap is a pressing need and helps management and employees build trust among each other. Besides that, it also helps employees align with the company’s vision, and encourages everyone to climb the same mountain.

As we enter 2023 with uncertainty, it is not the time to dwell on the what-ifs. It’s time to take charge and shape a year that’s not only profitable for businesses but also fulfilling and satisfying for employees. As we herald the great reconnection with arms wide open, management and leadership teams must keep an eye on the prize–their employees. After all, it’s those who work relentlessly to keep the flame burning. 


  • The Great Reconnection: A paradigmatic moment for employers and employees | People Matters | December 15, 2022 
  • AI@Work Study 2020 | As Uncertainty Remains, Anxiety and Stress Reach a Tipping Point at Work | Oracle | Workplace Intelligence 
  • Millennials, Gen Z, and the Rising Demand for Corporate Social Responsibility | Submittable 
  • The Impact of Employee Engagement on Performance | Harvard Business Review Analytic Services

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