3 June 2020

Don’t think new, think next

What should organisations be doing to drive people performance in their next normal?

The only constant in life is change. And as the future of the world continues to look uncertain, one thing we do know for sure if that the world of work will be completely different.

You don’t need us to tell you what a definitely strange, unprecedented, weird and (probably) difficult time it’s been over the past couple of months or so. Organisations have been hit hard and are being forced to decide what they want to be on the other side. Some people are calling this planning for the ‘new normal’. And as humans primed for, and adept at managing constant change, perhaps we should think of it not as planning for the new, but for the next phase, the next normal.

It’s not just deciding on working from home, or changing physical workplaces to meet health and safety guidelines, the current pandemic shines a light on an organisation’s entire culture and its people experience. Businesses are having to listen, learn, adapt and pre-empt what comes next.

So what do people want and what should organisations be doing to drive people performance and get business booming again in this next normal?

“60% of people will consider what is really important to them, overnight”

(McCann Human Truths In Coronavirus global research April 2020).

They will be looking to their leaders, for reassurance, empathy, compassion and agility – to adapt quickly, listen to their needs and build on the positives that have arisen from this crisis.

This is a time when organisations can truly demonstrate they put their people first. And if they don’t, this could have far-reaching consequences. In Edelman’s Trust Barometer Coronavirus Special, 71% of people agree that if they perceive a brand is putting profit over people, they will lose trust in that brand forever.

At McCann Synergy, we’re helping leaders plan for a post COVID-19 future, seize the opportunity to be purpose-driven businesses, reinvent the employee experience and harness the power of their people.

“Institutions that reinvent themselves to make the most of better insight and foresight, as preferences evolve, will disproportionately succeed”


Our work with business leaders during the pandemic has enabled us to gain great insight and knowledge into what’s most important to businesses right now.

We’ve established Five Workplace Truths – the professional ‘needs’ that are relevant to all businesses today, regardless of size or sector. We’ve captured them below, but they can also be found in our Next Normal Playbook, packed with advice, guidance and suggestions to help your next normal planning go from idea to action. 


  1. Purpose

 We’re always talking about purpose – the big ‘why?’ behind your business – but what has it meant in recent weeks? Has it guided your decisions and actions? Have your employees rallied around it? Or, has it been overlooked while you urgently push out crisis comms? If it’s the latter, it’s time to think about what your purpose truly means and how to deliver it, after all, purpose driven organisations often have higher levels of employee engagement. Share your plans, get employee input and engage them in decisions – even the tricky ones.

  1. Reboarding

 First impressions count and are often hard to forget. In the midst of this chaos, we have an opportunity like no other. Reboarding is your opportunity to welcome colleagues home and thank them for their sacrifices, grit and determination.

What’s crystal clear right now is that your people matter more than ever, just imagine the impact on your organisation if you don’t get reboarding right. Identify what matters to your people with our Colleague Truths framework. Our Reboarding Navigator workshop will help you plan your next 6-12 months roadmap for colleague reboarding.

  1. Experience

Employee expectations and preferences have shifted overnight. The pandemic has forced changes to the way we’re working, at pace. Adoption of new technology and flexible

working has had to happen – we’re now more open to changing how we work than ever before. Employers need to reflect on and re-evaluate the experience they give their employees.

Ask how can you connect and listen to your people? Are you committed and prepared to act on the feedback you receive? And if the answer is yes… take this amazing opportunity to review your approach and reinvent your EX, with your people. Use our experience mapping workshop to create an authentic, consistent experience across your colleague lifecycle.

  1. Leadership

 Employees are looking for reassurance, so businesses must ask themselves two key questions. What do we, as a company, need from our leaders and managers? And what do our employees need from them? The principles of compassion, empathy and clarity remain as important as ever, and in the coming months, the leaders who really delivered – and the ones who didn’t – will be under the spotlight.

Ask us about leadership engagement strategies, manager toolkits and individual or small group coaching sessions to help unleash the power of your leaders.

  1. Innovation

 Crisis drives innovation. During the last recession companies like Uber and Airbnb were born. There is a unique opportunity here – innovation now could change behaviours permanently, but CEOs are having to move quickly. Businesses that listen, adapt and believe in the power of their people will be the ones that survive and thrive. So provide an opportunity for employee voices to be heard, and acted on. Recognise that extra effort and celebrate the ideas that move the needle.

Book onto one of our sprint sessions where we use our creative and strategy teams to come up with actionable ideas to solve your engagement challenges.


What’s your next normal?

 If you need some help, support or guidance in planning and shaping your next normal, help is at hand. We have a suite of tools, frameworks and comms principles ready to be tailored for your brand.

We’re helping several clients:

  • Uncover workplace truths and create an action plan with our range of strategic planning sessions. 
  • Roadmap reboarding to give teams a practical and emotional step into the ‘next normal’, and enhance your culture further. 
  • Tailor comms effectively and get a deeper understanding of your employee needs with our segmentation and persona development.

For more information, or to grab a copy of our Next Normal Playbook, get in touch with Chris Giddings; chris@mccannsynergy.com  



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