Sjoe, 2020 sure came at us swinging! Everyone was prepared for the fact that the dawn of a new decade would bring a lot of change, but it’s safe to say nobody expected the status quo to disappear in a puff of smoke quite as quickly as it did.
If you’re feeling slightly unmoored and unsettled at the moment, you’re not alone - the vast majority of the world’s population is having a moment (to put it mildly).
However, it’s not all bad news...
The future of work was always going to be digital, diverse and dispersed.
We've just been forced to adapt to the practical aspects of this idea on a much tighter timeline than originally anticipated.
Now is the time to embrace and encourage the notion of agile teams that can form and reform on demand, using their various skill sets in new and exciting ways as hierarchies are overturned in favour of expertise.
However, it's also important to realise that challenges of adapting to rapidly changing technologies and new ways of management with fewer opportunities for face-to-face exchanges will require a new approach to employee engagement.
Here are a few things to bear in mind while you lead your team into uncharted territory in the coming months and years.
Thrive and survive - how to shift focus in times of crisis:
1. Rethink the way you approach employee recognition and rewards
The old-school approach to employee recognition was based on annual goal setting and awards, but as the pace of the modern-day workforce picks up so should our approach to engagement on this level.
Goals need to be revised often and rewards should ideally be a combination of financial and value-driven incentives that are shared regularly and visibly.
A bottom-up approach is your best bet. Instead of guessing what motivates your people, simply ask them. You may find that they value the opportunity to work on high-profile projects, having their ideas credited on public platforms, or being able to choose an exciting speaker or training course. The best way to find out is to go directly to the source.
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A focused reward strategy can pave the way for truly epic workplace engagement.
2. Ensure that your values foster a sense of purpose
Right now, it's very important that your people feel tied to your business by a shared sense of purpose. When times are tough and uncertain, tradition task-orientated goal setting should be underpinned by inspirational values that remind your workforce why the business exists and how it impacts on the community.
For example, working for a public transport company that sees its purpose as moving busses from one place to another on time and on budget is not exactly thrilling stuff. However, when you dig deeper and tap into the notion that your ultimate goal is to take punctual, hard-working people where they need to be at a price they can afford, that hidden sense of purpose sparks to life. It may seem like a small thing but it can make all the difference in how your employees feel about the work they do.
3. Take a look at how you define productivity
Optimal levels of employee engagement are a goal for many businesses because it's linked to high performing teams and increased levels of engagement, but it's also important to remember that productivity can be defined in different ways.
During the time of the industrial revolution it was determined at the hand of the amount of units produced in a given time, but that yardstick is no longer applicable for most modern day businesses. Instead, you may need to redefine productivity by means of innovation levels, market breakthroughs or new opportunities locked in and discovered.
4. Keep your internal communication levels on point
Yes, everyone knows you need to communicate with your team during times of crisis, but we’ve rarely had to deal with the level of ‘what now?’ that has been pushed onto our plates of late. At the moment, empathy should be top of mind when you consider the way you communicate with your employees. In times of unprecedented upheaval, even your most unflappable pillars of the corporate community need some extra reassurance and support.
When something disrupts your processes, clear, compassionate communication keeps employees calm and confident knowing that you have their best interests at heart.
Start by being as transparent as you possibly can from the earliest stage possible. Don't let rumours run rampant or let your staff guess at what's coming next. Disseminate information timeously and follow it up with regular check-ins as frequently as possible. A helpful Q&A space on your intranet can also do wonders.
Following these guidelines will provide you with a structured approach to addressing employee engagement among your disrupted workforce.
See this as an opportunity to revitalise your team from the inside out and keep your chin up - a brave new world awaits and your company is up to the challenge.
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