Grange Insurance has about 1,200 employees across 13 states selling personal and commercial insurance. Prior to the pandemic, the bulk of its workforce was on-site in Columbus, with only about one-third of employees working remotely in other areas of Ohio, Wisconsin, or elsewhere. Ammendola says during the first six months of the crisis, employees from everywhere pulled together and were running on pure adrenaline. “The rush of the call to action carried them through,” he says.
After the rush, however, comes the crash, and Ammedola says employees are naturally having a hard time staying engaged and motivated. As much as he worries about the current situation, he’s even more concerned about navigating a post-COVID hybrid model. “At least now everyone is playing on the same field,” he says. “Engagement will get more splintered when that is gone.” Put another way, it’s one thing for leaders to navigate a Zoom call with a team of 20, but it’s a totally different dynamic if five people are in a room, six are on video, and seven are dialing in. “Ironically, that’s not as optimal as what we have right now,” Ammendola says.
Furthering the deployment analogy, however, Mayville says one way to prepare for that inevitable reality is to focus on the “squad effect,” wherein a network of frontline player-coaches create cohesion and foster trust. “People have a higher tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity when they have something big to rally around,” says Mayville. While the plan comes from the CEO, successfully carrying it out depends on the credibility and authenticity of frontline leaders to initiate engagement and instill purpose in the mission, he says.