Employee experience during Covid-19

In the new normal, managers still have the responsibility to make employees feel valued and appreciated, promote teamwork, support and ensure solidarity among team members.

30 September 2020 | Business

Empathy is something we cannot ignore.

Lisa Matomola - Covid-19 has changed the way organisations operate and the world of work has gone through a massive shift when it comes to work arrangements.

Previously, working from home was something most Namibian organisations were reluctant to implement and a topic many were still debating on.

Flexibility has been a trial and error initiative and while still trying to contemplate on it, lockdown surprised us. Despite everything that is happening, people are still core to the business and organisations have the mandate to make them feel as such.

Experts state that, as employees adjust to how, when and where they work, it’s a great opportunity for employers to support and facilitate this adjustment. Improved employee experience has a direct impact on the overall employee value proposition and becoming a preferred employer of choice.

Leadership experience

Business leaders’ expectations have not changed - employees are still required to deliver and remain productive despite the underlying circumstances.

However, for employees to feel supported, the leadership presence is critical and required during these uncertain times. Employees need to believe that the situation is under control and need to be reaffirmed to help them have a clear direction.

When leaders share their experiences, it makes employees feel at ease and realise that they are also human and that they are in it together. Therefore, it is crucial that leaders remain optimistic during these difficult times and continuously engage with the employees.

Empathy is something we cannot ignore and going a step forward from work-related issues to being there for employees in need may distinguish you from the rest as a caring and resilient leader or employer.

Employee motivation

Getting work done remotely and keeping staff motivated is not easy during these trying times. Everyone is isolated, company fun days and social events are non-existent due the restrictions in place. Regardless of this, keeping staff motivated and engaged is still crucial.

A Harvard Business Report article highlights that working from home is less motivating as work becomes less interesting due to reduced workload, fear of people losing jobs, as well as the inability to get in touch with colleagues who provide training and development initiatives aimed at improving performance and fostering learning.

Holding employees accountable is important, however, being too strict and procedural can increase the levels of demotivation among staff members.

Frequently showing recognition to employees can boost motivation especially now when performance bonuses may potentially be off the table. This is also an opportunity for companies to consider non-monetary incentive schemes or rewards.

Managers still have the responsibility to make employees feel valued and appreciated, promote teamwork, support and ensure solidarity among team members. This helps reduce job hunting and resignations as recognition has a positive impact on staff retention.

High performers should be recognised even if it is a simple ‘thank you’ (privately or publicly depending on how they prefer recognition) for delivering quality work or doing work outside of working hours, not missing deadlines or going the extra mile to complete work.

Promote employee well-being

Considering Covid-19 restrictions, employees hardly take time off which exacerbate feelings of burnout, stress and fatigue. As such, employers must recognise this and encourage them to take a day off for personal hobbies and interests.

Organisations should come up with wellness initiatives that will support employees to take care of themselves away from the office. Wellness initiatives should be revised to ensure relevance and consider the fact that most employees are working remotely.

As employees gradually move back to the office, there is a need for employers to continue driving the employee experience as well as support those who are still working remotely. Employees have a role to play to improve their own experience by providing suggestions and recommendations to employers on what they feel might work best.

Remember, a problem shared is a problem halved. Working together and making the experience memorable for everyone is each and individuals’ responsibility.

The new normal requires everyone to work together, communicate openly and implement any suggestions aimed at improving the initiatives.

Lisa Matomola is the manager: people and organisation at PwC Namibia. She leads projects on organisational design, job architecture and evaluation, performance management and also conducts various soft skills training. Contact her at [email protected]

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