Employee Engagement: Establishing Trust And Transparency

“Adaptability is about the powerful difference between adapting to cope and adapting to win.” —Max McKeown


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In the months following the pandemic, the corporate world had been operating in survival mode and reacting to dynamic uncertainties. However, as we realise that many transformations that Covid-19 has brought about are more long-term than expected, as leaders and as organisations, we need to reanalyse our approach. We are no longer putting out fires, we are now rethinking the future and the future stands on something that has helped us weather all challenges- our people.

Here are some new-age employee engagement techniques that would redefine tomorrow’s organisations based on the challenges and opportunities of the past year-

Balancing collaboration and screen fatigue

As remote work has become the norm, collaborative software has been integrated into the work experience at an exceptional pace. The most popular include video conferencing tools Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams and instant communication tools such as Slack.

Given the wealth of mediums, formulating a strategy for the efficient utilisation of platforms should be prioritised. “Do we need a Zoom meeting for this or can it be done on the Slack hub?” “Should it include the entire team or should it be a one-on-one call?” These are the kind of questions we’ll have to ask if we need to leverage the opportunities offered by collaborative software and not just try to replace the physical workplace through them.

Another reason to efficiently plan collaboration is to avoid Screen fatigue, a phrase that has increasingly become popular in the Pandemic. A study by a global staffing firm Robert Half shows that among professionals who spend time on virtual meetings, 38% have experienced video call fatigue, 26% believe that the practicality of videoconferencing has worn off and 24% find virtual meetings inefficient and exhausting.

Therefore, as leaders, we need to strike the right balance of effective collaboration and employee wellbeing. Leveraging technology is great but not enough unless it is leveraged efficiently and thoughtfully.

Making time for Informal conversations

As work communication has become swifter with an influx of collaborative tools, informal and social communication has faced the brunt of physical distance. Earlier much of the employee interaction was impromptu- watercooler talks, lunches, or after office hours. Now, organisations have to follow a culture of deliberate communication to ensure that the team connects with each other beyond work.

Research shows that “the relationships an employee cultivates with their co-workers and supervisors have a direct influence on their psychological sense of meaningfulness at work.”

Therefore, it is important to not lose these interpersonal relationships. Planning informal talks like happy hours, activities and competitions, and virtual celebrations helps create a culture of belongingness for the team and reduce conflicts.

Clear expectations and constant feedback

Even before remote working became the new normal, there was a consensus about valuing the talent and skills of employees more than their time. With flexibility, goal-based working has got its boost. To make it a success, it is crucial to set clear expectations and deadlines so that we can do away with micromanaging while retaining accountability. Wherever possible, break any work into smaller tasks and develop a system of checking in with daily goals. Setting milestones not only keeps employees engaged but also helps resolve issues or misunderstandings early in the process.

Clear expectations and constant feedback have made work more efficient and put a nail in the coffin of Annual Performance management, as we have known it in the past.

Leading with purpose

A more long-term and sustainable way of ensuring employee engagement is integrating a strong sense of purpose in your work. When employees see the bigger picture, they care about the impact of their work instead of merely getting done with their tasks. The purpose is what binds the organisation day-in-day-out.

With the talent pool becoming global, both employees and employers can prioritise values and mission before anything else.

Employer brand of today is not merely a sum of reputation or size, it is increasingly defined by its purpose and its ability to answer the question “How are you changing the world?” and then living the answer every day through their actions.

Trust and Transparency

As opposed to a physical workplace, a virtual workplace doesn’t allow employees to see what’s going on in a particular project or with a particular employee. Therefore, it is important to share as much information possible on common group hubs that help everyone be on top of the organisation’s work as a whole. Sharing and acknowledging small achievements of the organisation helps employees feel connected to the team and the greater mission.

As employees are working remotely, there isn’t anyone looking over their shoulder. However, with the right leadership style and a high trust quotient, this transformation wouldn’t put you at a disadvantage. The big T of technology isn’t possible without two small T’s of Trust and Transparency.

Most importantly, put your employees at the centre of the engagement process. Wherever possible ask for feedback related to the medium, the style, and the impact of engagement and LISTEN to what they have to say. Engagement is a two-way conversation.

(The given article is attributed to Alok Nigam, CHRO, Bhartiya Group)


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