2020: What to learn – what to erase
Year 2020 was a year of extraordinary uncertainty and unprecedented events. One thing that turned out to be a boon in disguise was ‘connect’. Employee engagement and productivity have definitely increased manifold. The one thing I would like to erase is the term ‘WFH’. What was earlier tagged as some sort of leave — and very hesitantly allowed by managers — turned out to be a more productive way of working.
HR has shown great agility and business acumen
COVID-19 repositioned the HR function, which is currently under tremendous pressure due to the impact of COVID-19. In many companies, HR was often seen as a back-office function. COVID-19 has become a catalyst to reinvent the future of work for managers, who take the opportunity to make things better than they were. The world’s response to COVID-19 has resulted in the most rapid transformation of the workplace. Working from home has become the new normal, and we’ve gone from digitising the relationship between firm and customer to digitising the relationship between employer and employee. Human resources was on the forefront, enabling all transformation for business continuity, connecting the employees and their families for their health and safety; monitoring reviews, holding daily gate meetings, ensuring engagement and ensuring business hygiene. The perception of HR has definitely changed 360 degrees, and should be treated at par with the business function.
Managing hybrid workforce is more challenging
Every model has both advantages and challenges. We have to look at the advantages more than at the challenges and work towards minimising challenges. We have to focus on productivity, outcome and deliverables rather than presence in the office premises. Our strategy should be focused on productivity with self discipline, and any model will do.
“Earlier, we were only concerned about employee experience; now it is time to focus on the life experiences of the employees”
Blurred work-life balance: managing employee experience to managing their life experience
Yes, the sudden shift from work-from-office to work-from-home left many management boards concerned, not only about ensuring effective workflow but also about maintaining employee productivity. However, a few weeks into the new circumstances, we realised that the problem was the exact opposite. Instead of struggling to find the motivation to work from home and stay productive, employees were actually having a hard time preserving healthy boundaries between their professional and personal lives. In fact, many of the team members continued to work beyond the official work hours, sometimes sending e-mails as late as 10 p.m. This had an unintentional snowball effect on other employees who felt compelled to respond right away, even when the e-mails were not urgent. In my opinion, there is no shift. It was just that we were never focussed on employees’ life experiences. Until yesterday, we were concerned about employee experience, which is the employees’ perceptions about their journey through all the touchpoints, starting with selection and onboarding to their exit from the company. The company’s physical workspace, culture and technology are all important components of the employee experience. Now, it is time to focus on the life experiences of the employees. Managing home while working for the organisation is not an easy job. If one is working from home managing one’s boss, team as well as spouse and children, one cannot ignore any one of them.
Getting the employees out of the pandemic fatigue
Regular engagement, connect with the employees and asking them to be in office will definitely help. However, keeping a mask on throughout the day is not easy. My experience is that over a period of time we have to accept the new normal — as many have already done — and the day is not far off when we will overcome the fatigue.