For the last ninety days employees have been living in uncertainty about what is going to happen next, they have been at home, some of them working from a different environment and some of them doing completely different tasks than their job roles. There is little doubt that employees have been impacted physically, mentally and financially. As we move from the lockdown phase to the unlock phase, there is an uneasy calm that is prevailing for employees returning to work.
So, what should business leaders do create an environment of normalcy, give employees the feeling of security and bring back the positive energy in them to perform?
What are some of the tools and technologies that HR can leverage to address this situation?
The three C’s that business leaders need to consider for as business operations begin in the new normal.
In times like these, the significance of Communication in the organization is at its highest, especially Top – Down. Communication from the organization’ business leaders will help bring back the confidence of employees and build an environment of trust in the organization. In such times, Leadership should advocate and motivate team work to perform collectively rather than in competitive spirit. Business leaders of many organizations have used online communication platforms, their intranet portals, emails, gamification, videos, audio pod casts and messenger groups to effectively reach out their employees. Communication also needs to be two way. It is important to understand how the employee is feeling and hence feedback is crucial. Tools such as virtual assistant or chatbots have provided a very interactive interface to intelligently gauge the mood of the employee, their feelings and collect crucial feedback to re-align. Traditional surveys floated on message groups have also been well received by employees and have give a pulse of the employee. Overall communication will continue to be the key in driving an environment of trust and transparency in the organization.
Business leaders need to demonstrate empathy towards employees. Providing emotional support to employees is the need of the hour. One of India’s top IT company took up the initiative to call up its employees during the lockdown to ask for their wellbeing. This worked wonders for the employee’ emotional confidence and are now more than ever motivated to perform in the new normal work environment. Business leaders have introduced easy access to on premise medical services such as resting rooms, stretchers, on call doctor, tie up with ambulance services and health monitoring and check-up facilities apart from the traditional first aid kit. Business leaders have also set up Help Desks for their employees, so that they have a single point to connect and do not panic in times of distress. Canteen menus have become more healthier and there is more focus on employee fitness. Business leaders have utilized online platforms to conduct virtual fitness sessions with employees. Sensor based digital devices integrated with back end HR Information Systems have enabled day to day heath monitoring of employees resulting in preventive employee healthcare. After all prevention is better than cure!
With unknowns will come new and frequently changing compliances. Ensuring and managing the protocol of social distancing at workplace, in canteens, in campus, during travel will need to be thought through. Business leaders will have to think about new investments in real estate, office infrastructure and transportation to ensure compliance to social distancing. Cleanliness and basic hygiene facilities need to be upscaled. Indirect procurement requisitions for sanitizers, disinfectants, PPE, gloves, masks, shields, floor cleaners, mops, vacuum cleaners and facilities personnel will have to be taken up on priority. During this pandemic, employees have been financially battered. Business leaders can ease the financial burden on employees by extending personal loans and advances to meet their day to day needs. Work places have been fitted with simple and easy to understand signboards, instructions and checklists to guide employees to ensure compliance to health and safety regulations. Above all employees will also need to be trained to ensure compliance and build a safe and healthy environment.
In the continuous effort made by businesses to begin operations in the new normal, Employee Wellbeing has become the top priority for business leaders. As business leaders, we need to continue to move out of their comfort zones, think differently, empathize and empower employees to ensure that our businesses are back on track again.