Prioritizing the different areas of the employee experience has definitely shifted since the start of the pandemic. Here are a few ways to continuously improve it.
The employee experience was once centered around creating a comfortable and productive workplace, conducive towards drawing out strengths and compensating for weaknesses. But with COVID-19, some of the priorities among both employers and employees have shifted towards better crisis management, greater decision-making in the hands of employees as company stakeholders, and better transparency between management and the workers – all alongside a culture of growth and safety.
As we seek to find ways to improve the employee experience in 2021 and beyond, we need to consider how our workers are any company’s greatest asset, and that managing teams and people must be about providing opportunities for growth, autonomy, and feedback, over control and workplace regulations. Here are nine ways companies can seek to improve the employee experience in a post-pandemic world.
1. Work from Anywhere Policies
COVID-19 has taught us that a whimsical approach to implementing work-from-home policies carries massive drawbacks, particularly to employees struggling to create healthy boundaries between work and home or tasked with caring for young children. Not everyone can successfully implement and reap the benefits of remote work through their living room or home office – but that doesn’t mean we need to go back to purely centralized office spaces and greater investments in expensive commercial real estate.
Instead, we should look towards the potential of work from anywhere policies, and the growing coworking market, as well as its potential to help companies form hub-and-spoke workplace arrangements that allow them to greatly expand their physical presence throughout a region or country while reducing the employee commute.
The ability to work from anywhere, be it the main office, the home office, a coworking space, or a local café, gives workers the autonomy they need to develop their own creative space and find an arrangement that allows them to be as productive as possible.
2. Establishing Trust in Leadership
Some companies have failed to instill a sense of trust in their employees throughout the pandemic, providing little to no information on how employees should protect themselves, or how the company is planning to respond to mandated lockdowns, social distancing rules, and other hygiene concepts.
Management and business leaders need to do better in taking charge in critical moments such as these, and training themselves and others to develop better communicative skills with employees, reach out to them on multiple channels in the event of an emergency or crisis, and provide clear instructions on how to proceed for everyone’s sake.
3. Open and Transparent Channels Between Management and Employees
The ability to freely communicate between employees and management is important – management can only truly receive effective feedback through transparent communication, and employees need to be empowered to honestly reflect on managerial decisions and weigh in on company policy, especially when it affects them.
This is critically important in a post-pandemic world, where employees want both job security, and the ability to feel safe in the workplace. The decision-making remains in the hands of those in charge, but better actionable feedback can help them make better decisions.
4. A Culture of Employee Advocacy
63 percent of employees do not trust their company’s leadership. Many feel that executives are perhaps self-serving, or don’t know how to do what’s best for their employees. Promoting spokespeople within teams and departments to collect and voice employee’s concerns and problems can go a long way towards fixing the rift existing in many companies between employers and employees.
In the absence of other forms of advocacy, companies need to give employees a platform to clearly communicate their demands and help them give input on the company’s direction. Without that, companies lose the trust of their workers.
5. Ample Opportunities for Growth and Development
The simplest individual motivator once an employee has reached an income level they’re happy with is the opportunity for self-improvement and professional development.
Companies should invest in skills labs, educational opportunities, and the chance for employees to become greater assets to the company through training and learning programs.
6. A Culture of Recognition
Making sure credit is given where credit is due is another important step towards improving the employee experience. Employees want to be appreciated for their hard work and are more likely to give more than the professional minimum when knowing that their efforts are being seen and rewarded.
7. A Clear and Actionable Company Vision
A company’s vision for itself and the future is definitive to that company’s culture and identity, and these are two important factors that greatly influence a worker’s relationship with the company they work for.
People want to feel like they are part of something greater, something meaningful, whether it is a business dedicated to world-class quality, promoting local talents and traditions, or simply shaking up and innovating in an old industry.
A stronger and clearer company vision also massively helps businesses who lack physical cohesion in the form of a single office, by helping a scattered group of professionals rally behind a shared dream.
8. Smaller, Autonomous Teams
Teams too large for a single manager often lead to professional waste, in the sense that time and resources aren’t funneled where they should be, certain accomplishments and efforts get overlooked, and employees who might otherwise become important assets look towards other opportunities where their skillsets might be better valued.
To that end, companies should consider allowing smaller teams to form within departments, autonomous and self-sufficient, given the responsibility of choosing and completing their own tasks and coordinating with the rest of the department on a regular basis to decide how tasks are best divided between each team.
This way, each group develops its own working dynamic and leadership, and isn’t dependent on the sole decision-making of a single overwhelmed manager.
9. Room for Slack and Rest
A company culture dedicated entirely to the hustle may bring in the most dedicated and hungry talent but is also prone to greater amounts of stress and burnout. Employees need time to recuperate physically and mentally and divorce themselves entirely from their work.
Make sure every worker understands the importance of having clear-cut boundaries that allow them to charge their batteries while away from the office and come back reinvigorated and reinspired. Promoting rest also helps turn workers into creatives, allowing them to contribute to a company in a more unique and innovative way.
Slack time is important, too. It helps employees recover between sprints of work on tight deadlines and demanding projects, ensuring that they’re ready for their next challenge after a few slower days at work.
The employee experience in a post-pandemic world prioritizes the communication between team members and team leaders, between workers and managers, and of course, between employers and employees.