In a recent global workplace report, employed Australians and New Zealanders are more likely to experience day-to-day stress as compared to the global average - 45% vs. 43%. With such statistics, organisations must put a greater focus on their employee wellbeing in order to build a healthy and conducive workforce. When employees feel supported within the organisation, they will reciprocate with high levels of engagement.
In this article, let’s go through the insights and recommendations from Professor Richard Hall, Deputy Dean, Leadership and Executive Education, Monash University, Stephanie Nash, Chief People Officer, ChapmanV and Co-creator, Thrive HR Exchange, Leong CheeTung, CEO and Co-founder, EngageRocket in our most recent panel discussion.
In this erratic operating environment, how can managers lead in a way that creates full engagement and commitment from their people to the team’s purpose?
We have to remember what people engage with, it is not their performance metrics, work processes or bonuses. People engage with the purpose of their organisation and to find opportunities to share experiences of that purpose.
When leading through change, managers should adopt these 3 points:
- Providing clarity, being open and transparent as much as possible is the key to bonding and recognizing the degrees of uncertainty that people are feeling.
One key takeaway from our recent NEXT report is that remote employees are much more likely to deliver results when they know what is expected of them. Clarity provides a clear direction and framework to help you and your remote employees to achieve your goals.
- Having a listening ear to employees’ legitimate concerns. By demonstrating empathy, it creates a sense of belonging and team spirit, even in remote working situations.
Organisations can equip managers with new tools, including continuous listening enablers that gather feedback on workplace experience across the employee lifecycle. Especially in a crisis, leaders must connect with employees in real-time. Managers should also be trained to identify early signs of burnout to take action immediately.
- Relatedness and building connection within the team. Getting your team on the same page is more critical than ever. Teams that work collaboratively spend 64% less time on a task than those going solo and companies that promote collaborative working are five times as likely to be high performing.
A Dale Carnegie research found that when an employee is not engaged with the organisation, the root cause 80% of times is a breakdown of relationship with the immediate manager. There are two aspects to this problem – first, the lack of a secure, comfortable, and reassuring work environment will make employees less forthcoming about their issues. Second, remote work has made traditional modes of communication more problematic. Without watercooler chats or impromptu standups, it is necessary to revisit two-way feedback mechanisms between managers and team members.
“It's very easy for us to believe and assume that we, we are effective communicators, we know how to communicate with others, because we apply the same principles of communication that work for us. But that’s not a safe assumption.”
- Stephanie Nash, Thrive HR Exchange
As managers, it's important to take the time to understand the best way to communicate with team members. Some are more analytical, some are more expressive, some are just really sort of straightened to the point and others want to bring people along. By taking the time to understand your team's reactions, you can increase the effectiveness of your communication, especially in a hybrid environment.
We read about leaders needing to be authentic, needing to be vulnerable. But to what extent would this vulnerability also create a sense of despair with the people that they are leading?
It is a delicate balance, to acknowledge the current situation and to be honest. When we see a leader being really genuinely straight about that, most people are drawn into it, and that increases the level of trust and potential partnership.
“There's no playbook, there's no crystal ball, we're all just kind of figuring it out as we go. And some are doing it better than others. And some are, you know, hitting roadblocks and all those things.”
- Stephanie Nash, Thrive HR Exchange
Do you see other ways that leaders can help their teams get through this sense of negative deja vu?
There is a lot of value in our networks, within or outside our organisation. Draw upon your networks and start asking questions: What are you doing to keep your folks motivated? Ask for help, share, be willing to make mistakes, be willing to try new things, even if they're outside of your norm because we got to figure this out together.
Also, create space for small talks and conversations. It helps to reduce zoom fatigue and compensate for the “gathering time” we once had pre-covid, where we casually chat with colleagues while they grab coffee before a meeting starts.
How do leaders support training and development in a remote environment to ensure their staff are equipped for the future?
If you have an allergy that you need to take care of, you have to ask questions, learn about it, find different solutions that might be able to put it in place. You have to do your due diligence and come up with a plan. Create a plan that works with our schedule, personalities and preferences.
On the topic of encouraging training and development, managers and leaders should always keep in mind “ABC - Always Be Curious”. As such, when confronted with puzzling situations, we all learn together and bring an open mindset to the issue. Build a learning culture where learning is a sign of performing.
What are your recommendations for organisations shifting to a focus on employee wellbeing, and their people reciprocating with high levels of engagement?
Mutual accountability. As an organisation, we can’t make employees do things but we can make resources available and support employees in their wellbeing journey. Employees will need to take personal ownership to seek out when resources land in their inbox and think about how they can learn from what is being made available right now.
“There’s a lot to be said for kindness. Modelling and demonstrating gratitude creates the condition for an individual to achieve great things.”
- Professor Richard Hall, Monash University
A Handy Guide to Employee Wellbeing
Research and case studies have shown that healthy employees with robust wellbeing are more likely to be productive and engaged with their organisations. Have you checked in with your employees yet?
Get started by downloading your free survey questionnaire today.
Employee Experience Guide 2021
A guide to assess the state of employee experience, find improvement opportunities and gain from a post-COVID-19 economy.
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