Improving the Corporate Culture | How to optimize your workforce from a distance

Workforce Optimization, Work from Home, remote workforce, Unified COmmunications, Web RTC, Employee Retention, Corporate Culture,

Previously Published on News Break

2020 led to a surprising shift in how businesses would operate going forward. Many of these businesses have learned that they could actually cut costs by removing overhead. Others are downsizing and/or relocating to more tax-friendly areas of the United States. While some have let go of their workforce, others are growing at an unprecedented pace.

With employees spread far and wide, companies are doubling down on the corporate culture and how teams operate. Productivity was a major concern for businesses with no existing infrastructure and with employees unaccustomed to working from home. Performance was another issue. Uncertainty in the market had led to uncertainty in business, forcing those businesses to think outside the box and tighten up their strategies to ensure continued success.

Challenges are illuminating unique opportunities for companies to not just strengthen the workforce but to strengthen the corporate culture.

By improving employee retention ratios, we begin to eliminate high rates of employee turnover, which often equate to higher rates of unnecessary spending, associated with the recruitment, training, and onboarding of temporary new hires.

When employees don’t feel appreciated when they feel underpaid or as if there is no room left for them to grow, we see high turnover — even at businesses listed in the Fortune 500. With employees working from home, we must work to enhance communications, let our workforce know how much they are valued, keep them in the loop and, also, motivate them to continue. It’s easy to be distracted when our children are also stuck at home. It’s also easy to felt overlooked when you’re not praised by your team.

Communication

Communication is probably one of the greatest barriers a company faces when working remotely. It is much harder for teams to communicate when they’re not sitting side-by-side in an office environment. Social-distancing, however, won’t allow this to suffice.

Collaboration may suffer without human-to-human interaction. Teams will need to make a more conscious effort to ensure that all deadlines have been met and that all clients continue to be happy. Managers must embrace the corporate culture and move past this in order to cultivate positive employee relations. The manager should embrace a system for communicating ongoing activities and recording all timelines. He or she should also encourage side conversations that help employees get through these tough times, implementing virtual meeting spaces, newsletters, and water cooler events.

Managers shouldn’t just focus on the team, they should focus on the individual and how certain personality types interact with one another. He or she must gain a firm understanding of what is important to each personality and how they can be motivated even from a distance. Building greater morale will foster corporate growth. Positioning leaders will entice the employee body to reach for new heights.

Active Listening & Motivation

Waggl, a platform that provides employees with a voice for strategic HR initiatives, recently released the results of proprietary research. Their study indicated that open-door sessions and employee feedback are quickly gaining traction, as a significant driver of business success and engagement.

They surveyed hundreds of human resource professionals at organizations of all sizes. Of those who participated, 91% agreed with the statement that “Employee feedback is crucial to driving company success.” Of those who responded, 91% said that they believed employee feedback is crucial to company success. They valued employee feedback and encouraged both frequency and/or transparency across the corporate work environment. According to this study:

  • 80% of the respondents believe feedback drives more engagement, as more problems are being solved.
  • 66% said corporate culture had improved.
  • 63% said that employees felt that they were being listened to when they saw action taken.
  • 62% said employees trusted their higher-ups.
  • 61% said that it surfaced important problems not identified by management, ultimately minimizing turnover and improving key levels of retention.

There’s value in the employee voice.

“As this research indicates, HR professionals already understand the value of Employee Voice, and are ready to utilize it as a tool for boosting engagement and driving success,” said Michael Papay, Co-founder, and CEO, Waggl. “We head into 2021 facing a host of significant macro-challenges that will increase the volatility of the business and social climate. The adoption of new tools to facilitate employee feedback is inevitable.”

He believes in following the trend in order to drive faster action and establish a unified approach in critical areas, such as benchmarking, best practices, and strategic planning initiatives.

Respondents of this study further cited the need for following corporate initiatives with scenarios that would create a stronger need or desire or need to share employee feedback across the organization. They state that increased transparency and regular follow-up would:

  • Improve employee culture (75%)
  • Change management is driven by, for example, a new initiative, policy, or acquisition (70%)
  • Improve employee communication (65%)
  • Create a sense of belonging (63%)

The bottom line is that when people feel like they are being included and they are being listened to, they care more. They will go out of their way to “make things happen.” They will be inspired to continue even in the most difficult of times. They will hunger towards success, and they will seek to encourage others, who may be straying from this path.

Happy employees are less likely to leave. Secure employees are less likely to throw it all away.

Genuine Interest & Personal Development

The fact that soft skills, such as empathy, active listening, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence, grabs attention the attention of new employees should be an indicator of how well a company is doing when appealing to the incoming workforce. Perception is everything and can impact the desire one has on working with the company over the long term.

An employee must feel valued. They want to know that not only do you care about them and the work that they do but that you also want to see them grow and improve over the years. They want to know that they stand the chance of climbing the corporate ladder, and they want to know that you are also invested in their future.

It’s well-known that learning and development programs drive segment-related growth. Providing your teams with specialization will allow them to master processes that will also drive your company to success. Maintaining a modern workforce will increase corporate potential. Keep projects in-house will add to its legitimacy.

Positioning leaders across the corporate arena is one thing. Positioning them to lead smaller teams is, yet, another. Giving them the chance to have a bit more responsibility will allow them to feel appreciated. Opening the door for opportunity will, in turn, open the door to new possibilities.

“Lend a guiding hand. Ask not what your employees can do for you, but what you can do for your employees.”

According to The Human Reach, a coaching and consulting company that builds powerful leaders and legendary corporate cultures, we should “seize this moment to sincerely inquire on how we can better support our direct reports in 2021 — or what we could do to elevate team success in the coming year. Facilitating honest, constructive two-way feedback will build trust in your employees and keep teams motivated as we round the corner into 2021.”

They also suggest that leaders “deliver personalized gratitude in a one-on-one environment. Managers and leaders should connect with each direct report before year-end to deliver a personalized message of gratitude. Recognizing the difficulty of this year will foster a connection between employees and supervisors, as well as employees and organizations. Celebrate multiple successes. Focus on what went well and recognize successful pivots made at critical junctures of the year, be that the onset in March or any other significant milestone moments for the organization.”

They also go on to suggest that “tailored, thoughtful messages of thanks will go far to let employees know their work and contributions did not go unseen or unappreciated.” We should take into consideration all that one does and how they have proven to be a loyal asset to the corporate.

Don’t let these people train their new boss. They’ve earned their place on the corporate ladder and should be considered for succession planning and promotion. We need to invest in our people. We need to show them they are our greatest investment to date. Career and professional development, training, and certification are just a drop in the bucket compared to failed hiring processes and a revolving door of new hires.

Rewarding and recognizing our workforce will push them to achieve. Gamifying processes will encourage speed and accuracy for a more productive workflow of activity. We should also encourage fun, friendly competition and records for them to break.

“As business outcomes and expectations evolve due to the ongoing pandemic, employee engagement must remain a top priority among leaders,” said AJ Mizes, CEO and Founder of The Human Reach. “As we close in on year-end, now is the time to double-down on recognition and support to let employees know their work is appreciated, their contributions are valued, and that they play a critical role in the ongoing success of the organization.”

Tools, Flexibility & Vacation Time

On December 11, The Unum Group reported that what workers really want, based on new research on employee benefits, is “time off, flexibility and paid leave.”

Their report continues to explain that “Although both men and women rank paid family leave as the №3 most-wanted benefit, it’s more important to women (27%) than men (21%). More than 75% of all caregivers are female, and women are dropping out of the workforce at record rates due to the pandemic.” Another Unum survey among more than 400 employers in June found that “44% of companies plan to expand paid leave benefits next year.”

The national average of paid time off for U.S. workers after a year of service is 10 days per year, while most European countries offer their workers somewhere around 20.

“Paid time off is so important for employees’ mental health,” said Rob Hecker, vice president of Global Total Rewards at Unum. “It allows them to rest, recharge, and return to work more productive. It’s important to look holistically at your paid leave strategy. You should have a diverse portfolio of paid leave options to meet the needs of diverse employees.”

During the pandemic, employers need to realize that employees will get sick. They can’t afford, in many circumstances, to take time off, especially for new breadwinners and those suffering a loss. Mental health needs to be taken into consideration, as the pressure of losing family members, quarantine, and the economy can really be a lot.

Workers might find that they need to travel to help other family members, who are suffering from a loss. They may take on added responsibility or be unable to work from an office environment. We need to accommodate them. We need to make sure that they have everything they need to accurately carry out their work with quality and ease.

To make working easier, leaders should consider virtualizing the office environment. They should provide tools that automate mundane processes, encourage flexibility, and encourage communication as if they were on-site. This is one way companies have been able to provide unlimited vacation time, as their workforce continues to work.

Cloud networking allows the workforce to adequately collaborate and share documents throughout the day. Unifying communications, they can executive in real-time, and clients may contact them as if it were just fine.

Just as long as they have the software they need and the means to integrate, employees could use a smartphone, tablet, or any other connected device. This would eliminate bulky computers and allow them to work wherever they need to be while achieving results and contributing to the bottom line.

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