The last year has severely changed this. Employee experience that was realistic and palpable has now become almost entirely virtual. Gallery views have replaced interactions in the bay. Impromptu chats have become scheduled video calls. The difference is obviously vast but is there a way to bridge the gap?
As I share my take on upping employee experience in the virtual HR scenario, I make observations based on the daily challenges in Human Resource management.
- Person to Personnel: Management response to employee wellbeing has undergone a massive change in the past few years. The pandemic has created individual challenges for each team member, both personal and professional. These repercussions need a response from a humane and personal quarter. Reaching to any employee tackling wellbeing challenges makes a world of difference to them. This creates a positive ripple effect, not only for them but for their family members as well. Getting industry experts to talk about covid induced physiological, financial and other problems have been greatly received by various employees at many organizations. One of the key attributes of such sessions is, them being open to all – not necessarily for immediate families but also a wider group of friends and acquaintances. I believe this over-encompassing approach has helped many people with hope, assurances and positive mindsets to deal with the anxieties of such troubled times.
- Belonging supersedes Begrudging: There is a prolonged sense of loss due to no physical workplace to go to every day for five to six days of a week. Disconnects need to be addressed. This is more than just miscommunication; it could even create a vacuum that engulfs a person’s sense of belonging. Many employees have been virtually on-boarded and are now feeling overwhelmed with the lack of offline/ inter-personal connections. Weekly team engagement activities, sharing useful bite-sized infotainment pieces, or even small group informal chats can help inculcate a sense of belonging. These steps value for each person and prevent an attitude of begrudging. A collective front of the organization to deal with these unprecedented times and a constant reminder that no one is alone in this battle - are the needs of the hour. I think it is absolutely vital to maintain a sense of security and belongingness for our employees.
- Skillfulness v/s Stillness: Skill development needs to be a recognized roadmap for individual and team growth. A large part of the health of a team, big or small, depends on how HR works with them for skill enhancement. In the pre-pandemic phase, the drill of daily work routines (meetings, lunch, reports and more meetings) were still avenues of sharpening certain professional skills. Integrating regular skill development avenues that can also be customized as per employee or team will help overcome a sense of stagnation. The WFH overarching stillness could be mitigated with engagement activities that make your employees see dynamic aspects of themselves. Up-skilling to kill down-sliding - that’s the mantra. This is where the value of fully digital learning modules kicks in. A digital learning and development module does not only help employees elevate to the next level of competence, but also allows enough flexibility to complete it at a convenient time.
- Proactive employee outreach : A team’s effectiveness is based on cohesive working in the WFH situation. HR’s skills come into play in developing more professional rootedness through proactive measures. Addressing baseless rumors, putting rest to all covid related anxieties, ironing out industry grape-wine – are few of the issues where HR needs will play a vital role.
Empathy building at both management and team levels are of paramount importance while emotionally securing employees. Crises today may be micro or macro. The important thing is to avoid judgment from all quarters and work with absolute support. Many HR advisors are creating a difference by drawing the line between sympathy and support that comes from colleagues and superiors. While the first may not always be welcome or required, the second is a vital necessity.
No amount of AI or data analytics can replace the humane aspects of professional conduct that can be inculcated in our foresight as Human Resources experts. While the work trends could be remote, our actions can immediately drive the point home. This opens up avenues where organizations can step-up their accountability by understanding the unprecedented challenges of managing home and work, constant encouragement and finally, making sure that everyone in the organization is operating with a high level of EQ (emotional quotient).