From the occasional remote-working stints that employees took to manage their personal commitments along with work to being thrown into a situation where indefinitely operating from home became the order of the day employees across geographies have had to adjust mentally and physically to the new-normal way of functioning.
Nevertheless, the working populace has come to terms with reality for the sake of survival and business continuity. To their credit, corporates across sectors too are trying their best to keep the morale of their employees high by paying salaries regularly, restricting measures like pay-cuts only to the leadership and staying in constant touch with employees to ensure their physical and mental well-being.
During these trying times, HR professionals have really had to step up and go much beyond their conventional duties of managing day-to-day workflows and roles and responsibilities. They are playing the critical role of maintaining the balance in employer-employee relationships, as employers continue to demand loyalty from employees and employees, on the other hand, expect and demand transparency and support from their employers. In addition to their people management skills, the emotional intelligence of HR professionals is of utmost importance. Across organizations, HR teams ought to be empowered and enabled with the requisite information, authority and sensitivity to effectively navigate new normal work environments in a manner that keeps employees positively reassured and also maintains productivity.
So what exactly are we looking at?
The most important is to stay connected. Out of sight should not mean out of mind. HR teams must ensure that the employees are in touch with team members and reporting managers on a regular basis to prevent a sense of isolation from creeping in. Pro-active measures have to be taken to see that even those not communicating often are doing well and thus nip the possibility of any mental turbulence in the bud. For global organizations operating in multiple countries, this translates to a need for close collaboration within the corporate and local HR teams along with optimal use of digital technology to reach out and transcend barriers of language and geography.
It is important to realise that a one-off work-from-home stint is not the same as working from home on a constant, regular basis. The productivity measurement matrix being used to evaluate an employee’s output must take this into consideration and be modified accordingly. Even while working from home, employees must be given realistic targets and the freedom and flexibility to manage their work-flow. This will also help them upskill and reskill to eventually play a more substantial role in contributing to the organization’s growth.
Working remotely with no end to the prolonged isolation in sight can take a toll on the mental and physical health of employees. This pressure can be effectively diffused by engaging with employees in activities other than work and business. Conducting virtual sessions with senior leadership, motivational workshops, interesting engagement activities like, selfie challenges, photo contests to commemorate festivals and special occasions, online Yoga sessions for mental well-being could work very well to keep employees’ spirits high. An impact of this positive mindset would reflect in employees going the extra mile when needed and remaining committed to meet the needs of the organization and its customers.
Everyone who’s working hard deserves appreciation and acknowledgement. Working remotely demands collaboration and coordination at a level that all team members may not be equipped with. So especially in these troubled circumstances, if they are learning, trying and doing their best, their contributions must never go unnoticed. It’s a worthwhile practice to send appreciation emails, congratulatory messages and applaud employees during team calls and meetings so they don’t feel left out and continue to stay motivated.
As work from home becomes the new normal for India Inc., HR teams must adopt a more human-focused approach towards employees. They need to soothe nerves and act as mediators to build trust, transparency and optimism that will continue the organization to grow and progress in a sustainable manner in this constantly changing business environment.