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See and recognise the contextual elements of the economic crisis then define your own position

See and recognise the contextual elements of the economic crisis then define your own position

By Coen Welsh of Capacity Trust.

I have recently been forced to think of innovation and disruption. With the COVID-19 crisis, businesses around the globe are forced to re-think the way they do business and to re-evaluate the values (sometimes unwritten) we espouse as businesses.

One of the most visual values that have been exposed is the idea the employees will slack off if they work from home. Maybe this is not a value per se, more like an anti-value. During COVID-19, employees are working from home and at times are even more productive than what they are when they are at the office.

The COVID-19 crises put the spotlight on the age of disruption and we are forced to consider innovative ideas and strategies to be more productive and effective. However, I want to caution against throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Whether you are working in the office or remotely, it doesn’t matter if you have meetings in person or with Zoom, the principles of employee motivation still matter. In recent years I have embarked on a journey of actually reading and researching the classic research and theories we love to reference when we’re lecturing or facilitating workshops.

I read “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor Frankl. I have often referred to this book and the importance of meaningfulness when we look at phenomena such as Employee Engagement. Even in my own research, we found strong correlations between psychological meaningfulness and employee engagement.

A lot of what’s happening in the current crisis seem meaningless and people are losing hope. This leads to decreased motivation and in many cases, people have to deal with losing their jobs. This brings me to the second giant whose broad shoulders help us to understand the current situation we are facing and the emotions we are dealing with.

While we are trying to come to terms with the “new normal,” Andrew Penn unpacks Elizabeth Kübler-Ross‘ model when considering our emotions in this time of crisis. By the way, I don’t agree with the new normal idea. In one of his monologues, Jimmy Kimmel said: “This is new, yes, but there is nothing normal about what’s happening right now.”

Finally, I want to highlight another giant whose studies into learned helplessness can help us to become resilient in the uncertain times that we’re experiencing at the moment. Martin Seligman found that there are different explanatory styles in the way we see the world.

Seligman found that many people try to explain what happens to them using the three P’s, namely, Personal, Pervasive and Permanent. So when something bad happens we ten to think “It’s my fault” (personal) and it will never change (permanent) and finally, these outcomes are not only relevant to this situation but also in all others I may find myself in (pervasive).

With all that I want to leave you with some thoughts to ponder:

1.) Try to find a purpose where you are right now. With purpose comes meaning and Frankl proved that when we have meaning we can navigate even the most horrifying situations.

2.) Trust the process. Kübler-Ross’ model received some criticism in the past, but it’s a helpful model to help us understand the rollercoaster of emotions we’re experiencing. Some people are in the Denial phase, others are in the Depression phase while others are only starting to negotiate the new normal. So as you are moving through the phases try to meet others where they are at and help them through this situation.

3.) Remember that this is not personal. Seligman says we need to interpret this as situational. Your actions did not cause you to lose your job or if you’re less unfortunate, to have a reduced salary.

4.) This is not pervasive either. It is a specific event that applies to a specific situation. If you did lose your job for example that does not automatically make you a bad parent or spouse.

5.) Remember that “this too shall pass”. It feels like an eternity since the world went into lockdown and while we are slowly emerging from the after-effects of the lockdown, it may seem that the adverse effects are permanent. Things will return to where they were previously. It took about three and a half years after the Great Recession of 2008 for economic conditions to return to the pre-crash levels.

Finally, remember that we don’t need to reinvent the wheel to solve today’s problems. We can stand on the shoulders of giants to help us find the light at the end of the tunnel.


About The Author

Coen Welsh

Coen Welsh, a qualified industrial psychologist, is an expert on the Antecedents and underlying Psychological Conditions predicting Employee Engagement.He has worked in diverse teams in the UK, Egypt and Namibia. Coen regularly gets invited to speak at HR and other conferences. He is a regular contributor to NBC National Radio as well as Tupopyeni and Off-the-Hook on NBC Television. He is a founding member of the Professional Speakers Association of Namibia. You can visit him at or send a comment to [email protected]