Someone has said, “Happiness is a direction and not a place.” Truly golden words!
Delivering employee experience is a culmination of various things that happen in the lives of employees. Organisations can make an attempt to create a positive experience. As long as they align their efforts harmoniously and consistently, the direction gives a definite shape to the experience. This shape tends to attract a certain kind of behaviours and results; thus, determines the outcomes delivered by the organisation.
Given the uncertain times we live in, especially in the backdrop of COVID19, nobody knows if we will ever get back to the business practices followed in the pre-COVID days. Many organisations have already announced virtual working and remote working as their new norm. While this could be short-lived, it is certain that the future is going to be a hybrid version of physical workspace and virtual workspace.
New ideas of employee engagement are needed
We will have employees who would always be remote working with minimal guidance and supervision. We will also have employees who would come to the physical workspace on a need basis or a prefixed periodicity. It is almost certain that most employees will not have a predesignated workspace, lockers and car parks. It is unlikely that one would be able to identify a certain area in the office or the factory to be one’s own!
In the absence of a physical manifestation of the organisation, it is certainly a challenge for the leaders to get their employees to connect to the spirit and purpose of the company. Naturally, it is tough to build a culture of mutual trust and collaboration. Going the extra mile to meet customer demands and innovate new products, services and processes are tougher!
“Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience”, said Paulo Coelho. So, we have to try a few things which consider the ground reality and try making a difference to the members of our teams who dedicate the most of their active life of a day to the company’s business. What are these ideas?
Build Trust with genuine care
Employee engagement experiences are traditionally delivered by the work environment, the camaraderie, fun activities and doing things together at work. Leaders often deliver their personal touches in ways that are visible to the organisation. There are town hall addresses, intranet, pre-recorded video messages, cross-functional teams, annual celebrations, parties, talent shows, events and rewards and recognition programmes.
Given the remote working situation and COVID19-induced economic slowdown, companies and leaders are not in the business as usual mode. So, we need to try various ways of connecting and integrating the employees and their co-residents at their respective homes. We have to gather their opinions, ask them about their experiences and learn about their ideas of taking our organisation’s agenda forward. We have to listen to our customers and suppliers about their experience of dealing with our organisation. These give us tremendous insight into what must be improved in the organisation.
Empower people and develop them
Adults enjoy freedom and independence. Nobody likes to be watched over the shoulders. Some people believed that work-from-home isn’t effective ever; they allowed this facility very sparingly and selectively. Across industry sectors, this belief has been proved to be a myth. Similarly, people believed that training and development efforts have to be in classrooms away from all distractions of work.
Managers have realised that their team members can be trusted with responsibilities. Employees can be trained and coached from a distance if we can overcome a few obstacles on the way. Managers at various levels have understood and practised measuring employee performance even when the employee is working remotely. Technology tools have played a critical role in making all of these happen. Mutual trust for the manager and the team members has improved.
Barring some roles and industry sectors, most companies can allow either all or many of their employees to work remotely. However, some of these companies have struggled to implement remote working. They haven’t been able to deploy the right technology, build the right environment of trust and put the right processes and systems for performance management. We need the strength of the leadership team to drive the change agenda and lead the change from the front.