As it turns out, most companies did a great job in addressing their employees’ basic needs of safety, stability, and security during the first phase of the COVID-19 crisis. However, those needs are evolving, calling for a more sophisticated approach as organizations enter the next phase. For instance, how can you empower people to work productively from anywhere? What kinds of digital processes make people more productive, efficient, and engaged? And how can we integrate processes to make the entire organization run smarter and be more agile and responsive to change?
During these uncertain times, the quality of everyday employee experiences plays a big role in your organization’s ability to survive and thrive. Organizations need to think beyond reinventing policies and help people focus more on the important jobs they need to do to aid your customers and organization. Organizations that create exceptional employee experiences are able to engage workers who are empowered to do their best work.
Welcome to the new workspace of 2021 where simplifying processes to empower employees, giving them time back to focus on more important tasks, and helping in reducing their stress is the need of the hour.
Recently, People Matters and SAP Concur hosted a virtual CHRO roundtable to decode the dubiety around what's next for employee experience as we welcome the new workspace of 2021. Here are some key reflections from the session:
The changing definition of employee experience
With changing aspects of business, the way we work, and the way talent is managed, the expectations of employees have changed too. The conventional wisdom about what engages employees is wrong. The overall definition of employee engagement can be best summarized by the airlines’ co-founder and Chairman Emeritus Herb Kelleher, who said: “The business of business is people.”
Managing a business today is managing change – brought by various factors including the ongoing pandemic. And to make sure during these times of massive changes, employees are engaged, it is the best time to focus on the experience you have to offer.
According to the insights shared by Mankiran Chowhan, Managing Director - Indian Subcontinent, SAP Concur, said, Experience is the new currency that is fueling the next wave of business growth. The economic value has rapidly evolved from selling a product to selling a service, and now selling an experience. To boost employee satisfaction and retention, organizations must ensure they are helping staff manage prosaic tasks as there is a direct link between employee experience, employee engagement, and business results. According to a recent study, exceptional employee experiences may result in 17% higher productivity, 21% higher profitability, and 24% lower employee turnover. Organizations that create exceptional employee experiences have engaged workers who push harder to overcome barriers, serve customers better, & stay longer with the organization.”
Vasant Sanzgiri, Group Head HR, Shapoorji Pallonji during the discussion shared a key observation on how COVID-19 impacted the employee experience. He said,” I believe the current situation has opened up possibilities for the future. Many times HR would propagate newer ways of the work environment, different tools for working but somewhere along the line there was a resistance because the leadership was probably of a generation where visual contact was very important. The younger generation believes in the output of contribution and not the hours that you spend. In fact, the generation doesn't mind investing more hours but what is important is the sensitivity to the fact that there are other aspects like commuting, safety, work-life balance which are given needs to be given priority today because it considerably impacts productivity in some way or the other. Therefore, this situation has created an environment where we need to embrace work from home, new ways of working, and new technologies.”
Adding on to Sanzgiri’s views, Sanjay Singh, CHRO, UPL, added, “ One of the major shifts that the COVID-19 made us realize is that the physical interface is important but it is not so critical that you need it every day to go and create the right impact. Another change that we felt was shifting from a controlled environment to an empowerment culture. The current situation has allowed organizations to empower their employees to take charge of their career & work. This has further made the workforce more accountable for the power they have received to drive their work and decisions at work.”
“If I look from a people management perspective, the norm of the new world for me was flexibility. With more remote working and with more uncertain times, I think it is important that we build employee-employer trust. It will happen only happen when we move to the concept of managing by outcomes. Looking at the clock-in sheet, or looking at what employees do at a particular moment of time, all these tracking activities should be obliterated. Productivity metrics should only be based on the quality of output that an employee produces in a defined period of time. Further leaders should comprehend and pressurize themselves on what infrastructure needs to be offered to employees to make their work more efficient and effective,” shares Jayan P, Head HR, IBS.
Some of the key takeaways from the People Matters and SAP Concur cohort were:
- Connecting the purpose of an individual to the purpose of the organization
- Productivity would be more output-oriented than physical presence at the workplace
- Empathy, care, well-being for employees will help improve productivity
- Technology has been the key enabler in managing the shift in key people processes and its experience, right from virtual hiring to skilling, to collaboration
- Embracing intelligent technologies to accelerate digital transformation will be key for recovery and competitive advantage.
- Freedom and flexibility will be key expectations of employees in the future
- The future of work is going to be Hybrid!
About People Matters Cohort
People Matters Cohorts is a 3-day invite-only immersive program for leaders that provides a unique virtual platform for leaders to learn, collaborate, co-create & network, limited to a small number of leaders to maximize peer-to-peer interaction and learning. Segmented into reflection, assimilation, and application, the 3-day program enables leaders to reflect on their challenges related to the business context, participate in a live session structured to bring all participants together for learning, interaction, and networking in a virtual environment, and post the LIVE session are invited to apply their reflections and learnings on a “Learning-In-Action” project.