Updated: Sep 3, 2020
I begin this post with a big 'thank you' to all of you who took time out from your day to respond to my recent survey asking if you could help me. I really appreciate your replies and honesty in your answers; especially for those of you finding things a little tough right now. In this post I aim to share of a few of the insights I gained from the survey and also highlight how this invaluable feedback has helped me make sense of areas in which I can potentially grow my 'offerings' in these strange, surreal and slightly scary times.
So, what did I learn from the survey? Firstly, let's take a quick look at the current employment of those who replied:
50% remain employed and largely working from home - 38% remaining in their usual role and with usual hours;12% working in a different role or with reduced hours
34% are self-employed - 8% feeling that not much has changed; 15% reporting reduced work or hours; 11% experiencing a complete loss of work
8% being furloughed
8% other situation (retired or currently working but due to be imminently furloughed)
I found it interesting that the percentage of individuals being furloughed was low...I wonder whether this has shifted in the last week or so? Something to ponder as our situation continues to evolve.
I then asked people how they were feeling right now...with a selection of multi-choice options and a blank space for people to share anything else. The responses revealed a real range of emotions being experienced by those who responded, with perhaps an overall sense of uncertainty and stress.
Those who responded 'something else entirely' were invited to share their current thoughts and I was struck by the honesty and 'rawness' of some of these answers. Whilst a number of people explained that generally they felt fine, although inevitably were worried about family and increased home and/or work responsibilities (for example, "I'm generally fine. But juggling child care and small bits of work is stressful"; others identified a wide range of concerns, challenges and issues that were occupying their mind at the time of writing. For example:
"Stressed by having to furlough some of my team, having had to cancel the contracts of two contractors - and see a good year disappear into a dreadful year in 8 weeks - and now being about survival. Surreal - as we remain an excellent business".
"I have a big team. They are doing great work and not missing a beat with the switch to working from home. But I’m worried about them going through burnout and their concerns about how to ensure they are not feeling isolated or unappreciated or unrecognised".
"Very stressed, concerned about finances with the pay cut and potentially not having a job to go back to as we are in the middle of a restructure on top of everything else!"
The third question on the survey asked 'what are your two most pressing concerns or priorities right now?' and, as you might expect, the answers were very all unique to the respondent, but it was possible to draw some themes from the data. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many responses focussed on family, work and income, although a number of individuals also identified motivation and dealing with uncertainty as high on their priorities. The following responses arguably provide a useful insight into some of the common concerns:
"Staying motivated to do things and keep going rather than sit about - and overeat!"
"Maintaining my own wellbeing and ensuring I am able to transition well when lockdown restrictions ease".
"Ensuring my immediate family and friends are safe and feel well both emotionally & physically".
"Ensuring that we can manage financially (so being careful with money)".
"Managing how we cope at home with ourselves cooped up together for so long".
"Feeling isolated on my own".
"Keeping us both positive that all will be okay eventually ".
The remaining questions on the survey then began to explore the types of support that might be helpful and of interest to individuals in these changing times. As a self-employed 'chaser of dreams' I am hugely keen to keep finding ways to continue to serve individual and organisational needs, and I found myself increasingly aware that I was not entirely certain what people might need or want right now that I could actually help with. Whilst I am really clear about the things that matter to me, and the principles that guide what I do, I found myself constantly wondering how I could keep bringing my values and dreams to life whilst helping supporting others to uncover and explore their dreams...whatever they may be.
I began by asking respondents to think about what they might like help/support with at the moment, and again gave a list of multiple choice options as well as the opportunity to share something else entirely...
Under the 'something else entirely' option, I identified a number of consistently arising themes around motivation, inspiration and learning support. For example:
"Being inspired and motivated by thought provoking points of views and theories".
"Staying positive and moving towards long-term goals even though the world as we know it has changed!"
"Working on myself as a 'project' - there is a lot of CPD which has been on the back burner".
In the remainder of the survey I sought insight into the type of solutions that might be of interest to individuals and also the level of investment that they might be prepared to make, which has largely informed the 'Lockdown Learning' offering. I also asked what I could do to help with any current challenges and whether there was anything else that the respondent wanted me to know.
I really appreciated the honesty of response, which has provided me incredibly helpful insights into how people are feeling right now...even though a couple of replies knocked my belief and caused me a degree of inner turmoil! I know that what I do, and how I do it, will not appeal to everyone and am very conscious of continuing to work within the frame of my guiding principles. I am still human, however, and so comments such as "we don't need a guru, just our team to work together" and "do you know how many consultants are doing the same as you right now?" did prompt me to double check myself and reflect long and hard on my values, beliefs and integrity of my actions! I did ultimately ask the questions, though, and so again am grateful for every interaction with this survey as I know it takes time and effort to respond and share personal thoughts.