There are three time periods that exist today for the global workforce, pre-COVID, during COVID and post-COVID. While the pre-COVID times has its own segmentation in terms of industrial revolutions and more milestones to track activity and progress, the current times, or in other words, during COVID-19, all that was expected to be worked on, talked about, developments that were to happen in the space of people, technology and work, everything was disrupted by the outbreak of the ongoing global pandemic.
So amid all the changes, struggles, breakthroughs, what is it that leaders need to focus on?
Industry leaders on EX
Over the last month, through a series of interviews with global leaders, People Matters found out one common area of focus, irrespective of industry, size of organization, nature of business operations. Here’s what leaders shared with People Matters on their focus areas, in addition to sustaining business operations and safeguarding the livelihood of employees:
“Treat your organization more like a laboratory and less like a factory. Factories are linear and process-centric; they are all about the status quo. Laboratories on the other hand embrace failure, they test ideas, use data, and constantly experiment with things. Your organization must be an employee experience laboratory,” Jacob Morgan, a futurist, a 4x best-selling author, TED and keynote speaker.
We are moving from HR to HX - working in a company is no longer just about the people process, we have transitioned into offering an all-rounded people experience. HR can no longer put the needs of the business ahead of its own function,” said Helen Snowball, Head of HR APAC, JLL.
“An engaged workforce feeds into employee experience and swift addressing of outliers. Different sides of the coin - rather than different processes. Traditional models of employee engagement have often captured it as the discretionary extra which employees bring to work, even if they don’t have to. In today’s world, I will take it a step further, it also connects to advocacy - for the organization. Employee Experience - consistently curated and felt across the entire employee life cycle, becomes a crucial enabler in this process,” Shreya Bhagwanth, Head of Human Resources for the India region at 3M.
“In uncertain times like this, while organizations must continue to focus on business efficiencies, they must equally get reminded that even the best systems won’t work if the culture is hampered or employees are in distress. Hence during such times, it is essential that organizations and leaders recognize the importance of human connection and find ways to facilitate continued collaboration and social interactions,” Shikha Rai, Vice President & Head-HR, Canon India.
Despite the time period that remains under the control of the pandemic or the struggle that organizations and individuals face to sustain livelihood, what triumphs it all, being both the means and solution to sustenance, is a great employee experience.
Trends in EX that are here to stay
Several organizations need their employees more than ever now. The human element of innovation and approaching tricky business scenarios with out of the box thinking is needed much more today, and getting such commitment from employees becomes lesser of a task when employees are self-motivated, linking back to the experience and work environment you provide them with.
What counts as a great employee experience in the present day? Here are some guiding points to help you understand the same.
- Adopting remote working as an operating model: Some argue that remote working has been forced on the global workforce as an outcome of the widespread COVID-19, some say it is the only way to keep businesses afloat, either way, remote working is here to stay, at least until there is an update on COVID-19 being contained with measures in place to make workspaces and commute to work safe. What has been a plus of this remote working so far? According to a Future of Work survey, 78% of the company managers respondents stated “flexible schedules and telecommuting” as the most effective non-monetary way to boost employee retention.
Several surveys also indicate that in a few years, working from home will not be a flexible working arrangement but a more widely implemented working model to save on costs and enhance employee experience, likely to also become a deal breaker between two job offers.
- Enhanced focus on communication: Timely and effective communication is the need of the hour. According to a BSC survey, 73% of companies that outperform their peers have a formal process in place to communicate strategy to others in the company, encouraging both communication and collaboration. Regular transparent communication with employees helps foster trust and value to employees. Value here refers to employees feeling valued enough to be made privy to organizational discussions. Ensuring seamless communication with your employees is bound to get you better results in less time with increased productivity.
- Digital learning: It is a known fact that employees prefer organizations that enable their growth journey and provide them with adequate learning opportunities. With COVID-19 causing a halt or a steep scale down of business operations, there is no time like the present to catch up on pending career conversations and learning courses. The present global business environment has created an opportunity to upskill employees for their existing as well as potential roles. The idea is not to acquire ten skills but to have constructive conversations on career paths and provide necessary guidance on how to plan it out.
- Digital employee engagement: A precondition for successfully implementing a remote working model is availability of technology. In the long-term, this working model will accelerate technology adoption across various stages of an employee lifecycle, thereby addressing the pain-point of lesser participation from employees and bringing down the resistance.
Virtual platforms are not only building bridges between employees and the organization, but they also help maintain the overall organizational connect, enabling collaboration and maintaining a feeling of togetherness despite the physical boundaries.
- Enhanced sense of social responsibility: The impact of COVID-19 has been drastic for both human life as well as businesses, however, the one aspect of life that has seen the tables turn for the better is environment life. With significantly lesser carbon emissions globally, on account of reduced vehicular movement and industrial activity, the question arises - what is the global population going to do to retain this significant improvement in the quality of air, and therefore life. Several global organizations will now begin to factor in the social responsibility to maintain the current levels of environmental quality and taking employees on this journey with them is bound to create a more meaningful and valued relationship.
- Focus on employee wellness: According to new research from experience management company Qualtrics, working from home has also spurred a spike in anxiety and poor mental health, with many workers reporting feelings of social isolation, pressure and uncertainty. Almost 40% said they’d experienced insomnia, 50% admitted to feelings of irritability and almost a quarter a sense of guilt. This data paints a worrying picture of anxiety and depression surging under COVID-19. Leaders should point their team members towards mental health resources, provide transparent, frequent communication and enact a more personal approach during this stressful, uncertain time, in addition to encouraging a two-way communication and hearing out what’s on the mind of employees.
While it might be forced in the current scenario, remote working has been making its way as not just a flexi work policy, or contractual working/ freelancing option, but as a working model for many permanent employees as well. The present circumstances have only accelerated the adoption of a work from home operating model, which appears for a majority of organizations to be working absolutely fine, breaking the mental blocks of its negative impact on delivery and timelines.
The forced remote working isn’t an ideal situation, and certainly comes with its own cons, however, it has paved the way for a shift in mindset and approach, leading to openness in exploring alternate working models and reimagining employee experience.
To get more insights, register yourself for People Matters and SAP SuccessFactors #EXWeek, a week-long non-stop exchange of ideas, conversations, and consultation on Employee Experience.