The world has changed. The month of March began with an unprecedented human disaster which radically redefined the existing societal norms and the normal way of interaction. What seemed to be a distant future arrived suddenly shackling the preconceived notions, assumptions, and predictions. While leaders struggled to formulate new business models and strategies to cope with the crisis, the employees witnessed stress, depression, and remote work anxiety. Though people thought it would be a matter of comfort, the ongoing scenarios manifest a state of affairs as there is constant prolonging amongst workers to return to the usual work routines. It is not because of the pandemic stress the workforce have to deal with, nor the work from home office culture imparted, but it is about the clear demarcation that helps us switch off at the end of the day without the obvious cutoff point that something like physically leaving the office provides. Thus, Employee Engagement in the new normal has its own dimension to view.
Corporate Well-Being & Work Balance
The employees are experiencing a different work culture altogether with little demarcation between working from home and living at work. As a result, the latter feel distracted and require constant support, strength, and motivation to navigate through the crisis effectively. Team leaders need to adopt a human-centric approach to measure employee productivity and efficiency. In the backdrop of Covid-19, it becomes imperative for organizations to help employees regain their focus by constantly checking on their wellbeing. While team leaders focus on micromanaging work, the need of the hour is to foster employee productivity through connection, collaboration, communication, and engagement.
As simple as the term may sound, the connection between a team leader and the team members is measured by the ability of the leader to know more about their employees and how are they working through the tough times. Besides, it is significantly important for employees to be comfortable sharing their problems with their mentors for immediate resolution. As the professional and personal lines of work are blurring, employees are undergoing a drastically different experience switching roles, facing fears, and adapting to the virtual world. During such a complex situation, employees seek the support of their leaders for effectively working on the tasks assigned. A greater degree of flexibility, care, and compassion from their managers can go a long way in helping employees navigate through the crisis successfully.
The emerging reality requires leaders to adopt a radically different strategy for managing employees in the current scenario. The true potential of the team leaders shall be determined by their ability to look beyond the traditional approach of micromanaging all the tasks by constant monitoring of employees. The leaders must create opportunities for enabling employees to collaborate and develop human-centric solutions for effectively reframing the future and building a competitive advantage to upscale the business. Team Building and collaboration would enable employees to work together virtually and develop emotional resilience for staying strong during these tough times.
Besides, the leaders should focus on upskilling and reskilling employees by collaborating with training agencies focused on creating short training programs that incorporate gamification and experiential learning experience for the employees. Such training would add value to employee skillset and help them get a break from the routine tasks.
Organizations need to leverage technology for effectively communicating with employees on a timely basis. Having regular conversations with the team members unequivocally plays an important role in understanding early signs of employee anxiety and how leaders can take initiatives to boost employee morale. Regular virtual team meetings or calls can help colleagues to stay connected and get rid of social isolation. Besides, the agenda of virtual team meetings should primarily focus on the wellbeing of employees while gradually trickling down to other relevant aspects of business, work, tasks, and targets. The success of a well-connected team is measured by the ability of leaders to foster two-way communications that are engaging and also provide a platform for mutual exchange of learning, knowledge, as well as solutions day to day work problems.
4. Employee Engagement
“Employee Engagement” is not measured by organizational charts, ticks on the HR’s list to accomplish, since it holds less relevance in the current scenario as the agenda of virtual team meetings primarily focuses on the tasks assigned to employees and the status reports. Organizations need to realize that the world is witnessing an unprecedented economic and human crisis that has severely impacted all kinds of businesses, the global economy, and healthcare systems. The need of the hour to show empathy for the employees by valuing their little contributions. It has become imperative to remind employees of the value they hold for the organization. The employees deserve compassion, care, respect, and recognition for their continuous work during uncertain times. It is time for the HR leaders to be more humane in their approach for effectively handling employees. Besides, organizing virtual coffee tables, games, Pictionary events, the leaders need to recognize that humans need a social connection that can be effectively developed by asking the workers time and again if everything is okay.
HR: The Real Change Makers
To enable change, leaders must focus on creating a more humanized experience by enabling employees to be themselves. Merely changing business models and altering strategies would be futile if the employees are not allowed to be flexible in their approach for dealing with the remote work pressure and anxiety. The leaders must take into account the needs of the people and the complexity in implementing the changes successfully in the backdrop of the new work environment. Organizations must adapt and adopt a human-centered approach that incorporates the principle of empathy and focuses on co-creating a culture of trust, care, and recognition. It’s time to rethink the strategies for adapting to the new normal and living up to employee expectations.