Times have never been as turbulent as they are now. That people are any organization’s foundation to its story of growth and other achievements, has been widely acknowledged. This tenet takes a completely different turn now in terms of the approach towards engaging employees and the cost of ignoring it. People are under tremendous strain nowadays, trying to play different roles and doing justice to each of them. Few of the stress points are:
- Multiple members of family learning how to work/study online with almost no physical interaction in their house where space and infrastructure are not even close to what is available in the office. For example, Internet connectivity suffers when everyone is utilizing it simultaneously.
- Children expecting parents to spend more time with them and are unable to understand and accept that they are not available during office hours.
- Though employees have managed to continue producing the same output and quality it is taking them more time as online interactions take longer to resolve issues and have discussions that lead to problem-solving.
- Women employees are expected to manage household chores and children (in case of joint family in-laws too) besides managing their office work.
- These employees do not know how to manage their schedules, expectations from managers and family members.
- Managers and leaders are not aware of the issues and if they are aware then they are not taking any steps to ameliorate the condition of their staff.
- Families, where there are parents above 60 years or children below 10 years, have to be careful about who can enter the house or who they can interact with. Most of them have stopped household help and are saddled with that work too.
- These families are restricted to staying at home 24/7 as going out increases the risk of getting infected.
While last points are COVID-19 related, the rest will always be key to an employee’s well-being and engagement. There has been a race by organizations to declare that they will become 60%, 70% or even 90% work from home organization as it brings with it multiple advantages viz, access to a larger pool of talent across locations, the time and effort required by employees to travel to office, reduction in office space and hence, cost related to it like electricity, connectivity, water, etc.
However, not many organizations have gone to the drawing board and come up with a strategy that leverages the benefits of the “new normal” while also removes the pain points of their employees. Organizations have taken many steps in the right direction. For example, at Zensar we have leveraged our in-house HR Digital platform, HUMANe to have immersive onboarding, induction, learning, performance management, query resolution.
This coupled with tailored wellness programs, support from professionals through Employee Assistance Programs and informal connect sessions run by teams on their own is helping employees get over this difficult situation. However, there is a lot more that can be done. Now is when HR can lead the way in understanding the people’s implications of the current situation and come with a solution. Here is an approach that can be considered:
- The foundation of employee engagement should be empathy where HR leads the way in capturing the pain points faced by the employees using the Design principle.
- Be transparent and let the employees know that the organization wants to understand the problems faced by employees while working remotely. Invite them to be part of this initiative. Crowdsourcing principle should be applied here.
- The key will be to collect data from as many employees as possible across cities, countries, etc. Digitalization extends your reach that was unthinkable earlier.
- Use the power of analytics to identify trends.
- Research on the best practices and then look at them along with solutions provided by employees.
- Present it to the leaders and share the approved plan with the organization and invite them to help in implementing the strategy and making it successful.
Employees want to be accepted and understood as people who are fathers, mothers, in-laws, sons and daughters. It is the responsibility of every leader to lead the way in being empathetic, respectful and supportive so that they become role models for the rest of the organization.
Organizations that tackle this serious problem with their heart at the right place (read people-focussed) will find the investment paying off multiple times with highly engaged managers and leaders.