Feedback-based action

We have moved into an age where employees must be treated as stakeholders in the business. A well-intentioned initiative can have a detrimental effect on the workforce if it gets implemented without consulting them. Businesses can navigate this new normal with greater ease by engaging with their workforce to get their perspectives and to course-correct based on that feedback. Feedback mechanisms are useful because they lead to the democratisation of people processes.

When leaders make an effort to engage employees in the decision-making process, employees are more likely to feel valued and be more receptive to future policy revisions. For instance, decisions around returning to work should be made with employee input, suggestions, and concerns. This will allow companies to effectively address their queries, incorporate their recommendations, and ensure a less stressful progression towards reopening fully or a hybrid work system.

The uncertainty that came with the pandemic highlighted the need for open avenues of communication between employees and their managers. A recent survey by McKinsey & Company found that 47% of the respondents felt anxious when there was no clear communication from their firm about the future.

Going forward, companies must ensure that employees have access to regular and credible information on policy, workflow processes, and broader business decisions. Companies should also ascertain that information around mental and physical health is easily available to employees from a variety of independent sources. As the pandemic continues to take a toll on populations around the world, companies must ensure that employees are aware of pandemic protocols like mandatory testing and the importance of vaccination.

Employee engagement

Today, the workplace has become the primary sphere of social engagement. It is now an opportunity to connect with others, build relationships and find common ground. In this regard, support groups can be valuable in promoting a collective social identity and reassuring employees that they are not alone. A safe and judgment-free space with peers, led by diverse leadership, can encourage employees to share their experiences openly and find solutions together.

Empowering employees should also include giving them greater flexibility and autonomy at work. A 2020 study by global talent mobility platform Topia, found that self-directed work teams in the UK and the US displayed more engagement and helped improve the firm’s profitability.

If organizations wish to give employees a greater sense of ownership and ensure retention of staff, they must adopt an outcome-oriented approach. This is more beneficial than gauging their performance merely against hours clocked.

Organisations must prioritize people and purpose over processes to create a workplace culture driven by empathy and focused on holistic employee well-being. Though the lessons from the pandemic have been difficult to accommodate and adapt to, they will remain relevant in the post-COVID world.

Employees prosper and exceed their potential in organisations that value them as people and not just a means to a profitable end. They remember the support they receive during times of crisis and cultivate loyalty accordingly.

Organisations that continue to place employee well-being and experience at the forefront of their decisions will remain relevant and have a competitive advantage beyond the pandemic

Amanda Puravankara , Executive Director, Puravankara

This article was originally published on the World Economic Forum (WEF).