We are now in the midst of very uncertain times with the COVID-19 shutdown. Many businesses and markets have shut down or scaled back, many employees have been furloughed and others are working remotely. Some have adapted well to this way of working, while others may be struggling. The fogginess of the situation may become clearer in time but the key questions remain? What is the next norm and what needs to change forevermore?
Zoom, MS Teams and many other applications have been utilized as a way to transition, connecting with employees, managers, peers and customers. Managing from a distance and connecting with the working community in these times is certainly a culture change and, in many ways, begs the question for what the future of work for business looks like. How do you want your business to operate and exist moving forward? What does the culture of your business look like in the future – is it the same or going to be different? One CEO recently put the question to one of us, asking ‘what right does he have to ask his employees to come back to the office after the shutdown?’ Quite a valid question indeed! Twitter, Facebook and Shopify have already said they will let employees work from home forever.
Right Now, it’s Not All Roses
This world is not all rosy right now. We are all having ‘our moments’ in this situation. We are approaching week 9 or 10 of the shutdown in many parts of the globe and many of us have felt a little ‘blah’ about it all from time to time. We know we can’t control many aspects of this new way of living and working at the moment, and the time for going out for a nice coffee, dinner or a drink is all on hold right now. Many of us are home schooling, which is easy for some parents, and a real struggle for others, with younger kids needing much more support everyday. Even where children aren’t in the picture, it could be not seeing your loved ones or seeing too much of them and not having time for ‘you’, as you would normally get. All perspectives matter.
Engagement or Wellbeing?
If you are asking if engagement or wellbeing should be the focus, the answer is to focus on both – they are one of the same. To truly engage an employee, you have to demonstrate that you care about their wellbeing. Our wellbeing is so important right now, more than ever before and on so many levels. How are your employees, each and every one of them feeling about their wellbeing, about their mental, social, financial, physical, personal, emotional and technological wellbeing? Do you really know everything about your employees? Are you looking at each of them as a person and trying to build a stronger emotional connection? Are you really in touch with everyone’s wellbeing in a holistic viewpoint? It could very well be that what you see on conference calls is the view of a few, not the view of everyone’s wellbeing individually and collectively.
Managers need to get close to their teams during these times, now more than ever simple ‘social skills’ are a key management competence. We have all learnt that to engage, care about wellbeing, and effectively manage performance we need to get to know people, and that’s not a one-way street. Managers are people too and showing a bit of emotion and demonstrating this is a great way to build relationships. We are all human and showing the human side as a manager is so important for building trust.
Keeping it Simple
In a world full of data and increased use of technology, what does a manager and organisation really need? How much is too much? We really don’t need as much as we think most of the time. At Loving Monday and Emotie we keep things simple. Keeping things simple is an ethos that drives both organisations and one of the reasons we work together. Emotie provides simple, usable data about the things that matter and Loving Monday support managers to develop the confidence, capability and behaviour to use it well. We truly believe that less is more.
Managers must be enabled enough to create and prioritise conversation, drive the development of relationships and trust. It’s more about leveraging the conversation with the right data. Having employees check-in about their wellbeing and performance, in particular, their emotional wellbeing regularly, and completing engagement and wellbeing surveys as a collective gives managers the data they need to have a purposeful conversation.
One CEO recently followed up on a recent employee check-in that wasn’t very positive (very purple in the Emotie world) and by knowing this the CEO was able to pick up the phone and talk to the person and solve the problem there and then. The problem was rectified quickly which saved time in productivity and gave the employee peace of mind to move on and perform. If there wasn’t the right emotion-based check-in available the employee could have sat on the problem for far too long, lost valuable time and productivity and suffered emotionally. It’s in times like this, during remote working, that having this data available as a manager is critical for each and every employee, as well as critical for the organisation.
The ‘next normal’ or the ‘next abnormal’ is dawning on us as we begin to explore what is next for our people and our organisations. From new office space design to understanding how many people really need to be present in the office at any one time or ever again, to what does this next or new culture look like, are some of the questions organisations are grappling with.