As we mentioned in our blog post summarising our approach to the post-COVID return to work, organisations can benefit from focusing their approach on 4 key pillars: people, ways of working, workplace and technology. In this post we will take a deeper dive into the ‘people’ pillar and provide guidance on how to best plan next steps.
Show your people that you really care
More than ever before, employee wellbeing needs to be front-of-mind. It is crucial that you understand the individual needs and expectations of your employees and introduce appropriate solutions and initiatives to support them. As you plan your approach, we believe there are three key questions to focus on.
1) What challenges are your employees facing?
In order to successfully plan and execute your ‘return to work’ strategy, you need to first understand exactly what challenges your employees are facing and what they need support with. It may differ for each person, depending on their home circumstances, their daily commute and their health. This can be accomplished through creating employee personas and journey maps. Typically associated with customer experience tasks, these tools are now becoming increasingly popular in employee experience programmes and can bring invaluable insight to your organisation.
It is absolutely crucial for businesses to recognise that their workforce is made up of a diverse group of people, who will have different experiences when it comes to lockdown and the return to work process. Defining these differences involves a series of steps – such as workshops, interviews, focus groups and surveys – which help to recognise the breath of experiences within your organisation. It is important to remember that experiences will vary through the ‘return to work’ process – from pre-return, through to the initial days and weeks in the office. It’s also essential to consider possible infections on site and the possibility of office re-closure if the virus were to spike again. Vulnerability, age, physical health and mental wellbeing will all play a role and influence your employees’ willingness and ability to come back to the office.
2) How can you help your employees to be safe, engaged and productive?
Many employees will look to their employers for guidance – if they are worried about their health and trying to adjust to the ‘new normal’, for example. Organisations that are able to make evidence-based decisions and tailor the ‘return to work’ experiences for all of their employee types will be much more successful in creating an engaging, productive and positive workplace.
While it will not be possible to have a personalised approach for every single employee, it’s crucial that you consider your key employee personas. Support employees who are sick or caring for others and consider phasing their return and adjusting your HR policies to guarantee they have appropriate guidance and communication. Consider remote onboarding for your new starters and think about the possibility of setting up satellite offices to reduce commute.
Use data to track productivity, identify issues and react as soon as they emerge. This will be beneficial to any individuals who might be struggling as well as your wider business as a whole.
3) How will you know whether your approach is working?
The transition to the ‘new normal’ will not be easy and we won’t get everything right straight away. You need to accept that your ‘return to work’ journey will be a learning curve. If you want to know whether your approach is working, there is a simple way to check – just ask!
Now, more than ever before, organisations need to check-in with their employees to understand what is working and what isn’t. A ‘Voice of the Employee’ program will play a critical role on your ‘return to work’ journey. Consider using short pulse surveys to track your employees, gain insight and understand how they are adapting to their new reality. How would you rate your mental well-being today? Do you feel safe? Do you feel supported? Do you have the right tools to work productively? Don’t be scared to ask those questions. Most importantly, once you get your answers – act on them!
Your people are your greatest asset. Now, more than ever before, you need to ensure they feel safe, supported and valued. Keep them involved and informed. Listen to their feedback. Show your people that you really care.
For specific advice on planning your return to work journey, please don’t hesitate to reach out and our team will let you know how we can help.