The past year and a half has been filled with uncertainty, societal upheavals, and major life disruptions. The pandemic has completely reshaped the ways in which we work and relate to one another, and organizations would be smart to carefully consider how they navigate the return to work and “normal” life.
This transitional phase presents an opportunity for employers to rethink the ways in which they engage and motivate employees. By focusing on different aspects of the employee experience - like trust, social cohesion and purpose - organizations can adapt to the moment and motivate employees to return to the workplace better than ever.
Trust & Leadership
According to a McKinsey Report, over 75% of employees indicated that they believed their employer responded effectively to the COVID-19 crisis and took care in protecting the safety and health of their employees. This statistic represents a level of built trust during the pandemic that organizations and leaders can continue to foster.
By demonstrating compassionate leadership that encourages open communication, you will not only continue to build trust, but you may also receive brilliant feedback or ideas that you would otherwise not have considered.
Continue to build trust and social cohesion by having open channels of communication.
Solicit ideas from employees as to how they would like to move forward and how they would like to navigate the transition back to in-person or hybrid work models.
Create avenues for shared feedback and keep employees apprised of changes in a timely manner, allowing them feedback before developing or implementing changes that will directly affect them, their team, or working conditions.
Be present with employees, as this period will be difficult to navigate, and involve them in the process of developing and instituting changes beyond this crisis.
Display optimism towards a shared vision of the future that is carried over into all communications, exhibiting a calm and collected demeanor towards the challenges this transition will almost certainly bring.
Finally, be forgiving. Understand that there will undoubtedly be uncertainty in this period. Offer guidance, listen to feedback, and clearly communicate plans and expectations.
During this transitional time, motivate employees by continuing to be action-oriented, compassionate, transparent and present.
Social Cohesion & Collective Will
While the pandemic has affected each of us differently, the shared lived experience through crisis has created a feeling of camaraderie. Build on this collective camaraderie of the past year and continue to nurture trust and empathy with your employees. By creating an environment of social cohesion and inclusion, where respect, equality and fairness are at the forefront, organizations can help employees feel recognized as individuals and encourage collective will.
Use this transitional period to re-examine company culture and allow employees to have a stake in redeveloping or recommitting to this culture:
Create a time and space for employees to discuss concerns or offer services that support employees during this time.
Encourage and invest in the development of employee-to-employee relationships. Often employees will have great ideas about how to develop and maintain these relationships, so leaders need only provide the resources and space.
As it is likely that hybrid models and different team structures will become the new normal moving forward, building and maintaining an integrated, inclusive culture will enhance employee satisfaction and benefit organizations.
Recognizing Individual Purpose
Taken to the individual level, motivation becomes more complicated. Some employees are motivated by rewards, recognition, or money, while others are motivated internally.
This transition period offers a unique opportunity to understand individual employee motivations and purpose. Employees often need to not only feel recognized and valued, but also that their work contributions are working towards a larger purpose.
Engage employees in ongoing conversations about purpose and let individuals from all levels of the organization play guiding roles in developing, revising and reinforcing the organization’s purpose.
Assist employees in connecting their workplace contributions to a broader sense of purpose within themselves and the organization.
Find ways to incorporate the goals of the organization in all communications and assist employees in linking their contributions directly to the organization’s goals and purpose - as this can help their work feel more meaningful.
Companies also consider flexibility in this time of transition, perhaps offering sabbaticals, more time off, or flexible work hours to increase employees’ sense of work/life balance where they are able.
Cultivate a stable, secure work experience and environment by offering competitive compensation and benefits, like a Boom Members Rewards Program.
Research suggests that enhancing employee experiences can improve employee work effectiveness, engagement and well-being. Create actionable goals that allow the organization to adapt to employee needs and create a culture that allows employees to express needs and concerns, fostering collective will and purpose. By focusing on these experiences your organization can make this transitional period the start of a new era.