In addition to the devastating loss of life, the Covid-19 pandemic also created a socio-economic crisis. School closures, job losses, government spending deficits and reduced investment in critical initiatives such as clean energy – the pandemic undermined progress on many fronts.

In one area, though, I did see some positives from the pandemic. Across organisations, leadership teams spent more time together – even if it was achieved virtually rather than face-to-face – and were better aligned on their priorities and next step actions. Many leaders also spent more time and care communicating decisions with their wider teams.

As a result, at several of my clients, colleague engagement actually increased during the pandemic, as people responded positively to the greater clarity and focus from ‘the top’.

Over the next year or more, similar levels of clarity, communication and engagement will be required. The Bank of England has warned that there will be a UK recession throughout 2023, which, along with double-digit inflation and higher interest rates, will create lasting economic damage. Your colleagues will feel uncertain and nervous about the future – both the organisation’s and their own.

I am currently pulling together ideas for how companies can grow in a downturn, which I’ll share next week. In the meantime, as your leadership team comes back together after their summer holidays, I suggest that you re-create the Covid-style war-rooms, meetings and communication plans.

Alongside strategic clarity and rigorous follow-through, organisational engagement will be a key differentiator between those companies that win during the upcoming downturn and those that struggle to survive intact.

So, starting tomorrow, what 3 actions can you take to build your people’s engagement with their work, their colleagues and your organisation’s future success?

Off The Record: Better Together by Jack Johnson

It’s not always easy

And sometimes life can be deceiving

I’ll tell you one thing

It’s always better when we’re together

Mmm, it’s always better when we’re together

Yeah, we’ll look at the stars when we’re together