Employee Experience Is More Important Than Ever - Here's how to develop Emotional Connection
The last eight months have changed almost every aspect of our lives, particularly in the workplace. The flexible working environment can find you and your colleagues juggling school runs, emails, voice calls, zoom calls, social media…blending home and work into one big melting pot, leaving you alone and struggling to stay motivated, confident, and positive?
You are not alone!
Employers and workers are reporting increased productivity working from home, but the productivity gains are coming with a cost to our mental health during this pandemic. Read my article on The mental pitfalls of working from home and what to do about them, here
And this is a global issue. In the US, a study of US workers earlier this year showed that:
41 percent of U.S. employees feel burnt out from work
As many as 2 in 3 people experience depression
23 percent report feeling depressed and that they’d let themselves and others down
This survey of the mental health of workers was conducted at the beginning of the pandemic lockdown and found employees struggling with negative emotions, concentration, and feeling unmotivated to do their job. Notably, these rates were higher among women, younger workers, and those living with a vulnerable person. The toll Covid-19 is taking on employees is yet another reason for employers to focus on the employee experience.
With growing feelings of isolation and lack of support, we are increasingly looking for ways to develop emotional connections during times of social distancing and remote working.
And to compound things, UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak has warned that the number of unemployed people is expected to surge to 2.6 million by mid-2021. The latest figures show 1.62 million people are unemployed in the UK, a number that has risen by more than 300,000 since last year and the number of unemployed people in the UK that are over 50 has risen by a third over the last twelve months.
With all this in mind, employee experience is more important than ever, and not just the tried and tested formulas…we need a new take on employee experience. One in which HR teams and managers have a direct line of communication with employees, where they listen to and act on feedback on topics such as mental health, logistical problems, blockages, how support is given and received, communication channels and protocols, the changing customer needs and what is required of the management.
Developing emotional connections with employees is especially important. Ensuring employees have what they need to perform at their best and clear and transparent communication is key.
Developing and nurturing employee emotional connections
So, what can companies focus on now to develop emotional connections with their team? Well, for starters, they can:
1. Assess the employee experience from the employee's point of view.
2. Listen to their employees to understand what type of virtual and physical workplace environment works best for them.
3. Understand what workplace wellbeing means to the individual – everyone’s different.
4. Make employee experience part of the whole company culture.
5. Integrate the different segments of their team.
6. Create employee journey maps with the employee’s individual needs central to it.
7. Continually assess and evolve the employee experience.
8. Clarify expectations and company culture for a remote team.
9. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
A key attribute that is proven to develop emotional connection and improve employee experience exponentially and cements all of the above, and more together is Resilience.
As companies update their priorities, management teams will have a large role in promoting and achieving resilience. Many companies may have had emergency plans in place for unexpected problems, but it is unlikely that they were planning for the current pandemic. That means companies need to do some extra planning to take care of their most important asset: their workforce.
To create a resilient workforce, focus needs to be firmly on four key areas: succession planning, employee/talent management, change management (flexibility to respond to short term disruption), and workforce re-skilling.
Personal resilience training benefits a business in so many ways, not least by nurturing motivation, confidence, direction, and a sense of purpose but also developing the ability to deal with change, and making individuals less susceptible to burnout. It also improves employees’ overall health, as resilience and wellbeing in the workplace are closely linked.
There are six key pillars to resilience:
Lifestyle - Gaining a deeper understanding and acceptance of yourself. Investing time in your physical wellbeing and taking an objective look at your life’s journey.
Self-care - Discovering and adopting routines and practices to sustain you.
Adaptability - Maintaining perspective and positivity throughout and beyond a period of change.
Authenticity - Addressing cultural issues and living according to your personal values and beliefs.
Purpose – Gaining an understanding of and believing in the relevance of what you do. Investing in your higher purpose.
Networks - Creating professional and social connections and relationships for support.
Calmer Sea has created the online training course, Resilience Masterclass (www.resilience-masterclass.com) that incorporates a compelling combination of the most effective insights from the worlds of behavioural psychology, business analysis techniques, personal development strategies and performance psychology; combining our in-depth knowledge of human behaviour, change management and business planning.
Through an engaging 12-step plan, individuals and teams have access to an array of practical tools to help them create sustainable change, realise potential, and transform performance.
In today’s evolving climate where business needs are changing rapidly, adaptability is paramount, and cost-cutting is becoming more prevalent. Putting systems into place to train employees and give them a toolbox of strategies and coping mechanisms that they can implement when required is beneficial for all and even helps businesses become more efficient by accelerating time-to-productivity.
If you are a business director or in a position of senior management, this is your moment to support employees by implementing cultural changes that develop emotional connections, understand the mental and emotional stresses that employees are under, and encourage them to stay positive in a world of uncertainty.
Creating the right workplace culture has never been more important than it is now, as we increasingly work remotely and change our practices to cope with the evolving commercial landscape. There has never been a more meaningful opportunity to address workplace inequalities and align our values. To redesign our wellbeing programs and create new HR practices. Through the challenges we face now, we have a profound opportunity to redesign not just workplace culture, but define a new, vibrant culture overall
What is your organisation doing to create an optimal employee experience during these uncertain times?