From managing in a crisis to managing change; this has been the journey for many a leader in recent times.
The pandemic has accelerated the move for many organisations to hybrid working, and with that the need to care for a more dispersed workforce. It has been a monumental task for leadership and people teams and so it is little wonder that this has been a journey guided by new processes and policies.
Something has been missing though in efforts to keep employees engaged and on the same path, in my view. A focus on ways of working will create structure in times of change and uncertainty, but they will not nurture the emotional connection so vital to the employee-employer relationship.
To move from a state of flux to a clear direction, it is entirely understandable that leaders will tap into the tools of corporate governance. For some organisations I have been talking to, however, leaders have lost sight of what is central to everything they do: their company’s ethos.
Ethos refers to the shared values and behaviours of people working together in an organisation. It essentially underpins your company culture and will help guide your recruitment, making sure you have the right people on board, and employee engagement.
I recently read an article by Microsoft’s Chief People Officer, Kathleen Hogan, about a ‘human energy crisis’. A perfect storm of factors have contributed to widespread burn-out among people at work, she says. Kathleen lists a number of things the leader, especially in HR, can do to address this through the employee experience. ‘We all need to do better for our employees,’ she says.
And first on Kathleen’s list was ‘Putting culture and purpose front and center’. ‘That culture needs to offer connection to the company’s purpose, so every employee can see their work as meaningful and themselves as a mission critical component of the organisation,’ she argues.
I couldn’t agree more. In times of change, your company ethos, the belief system central to your culture, will help you win hearts and minds and get buy-in for the new direction your organisation is taking.
How do you do this? Here are some ethos-centred actions that will help you engage in a very human way with a dispersed workforce:
- Make inclusiveness central to your ethos but emphasise that this is a two-way street. If you as an employee have chosen to work remotely, you need to join the conversation and raise your issues
- Discuss expectations, such as, ‘How many hours are you working?’ and, ‘Is this remote or flexible model working for you and your family? How can we make it better?’ Such an exchange will help you build a strong working relationship
- Encourage a culture of people being ok with taking leave. People really struggle to switch off from work when it blends with life at home. It is common for those working remotely to feel they are missing out. Embed team working that enables you to give each other a break
- Get an understanding of what kinds of work environment get the best out of your people. This means being flexible about the places and patterns your employees can work in. In other words, how would you work at your best if you are going to deliver what we want to deliver?
- Do everything you can to help other people feel valued. As human beings, we need recognition and when working remotely, this is particularly important. It helps us to do our best work
- Consider your stakeholders. It’s easy to forget that how you and the team are not the only important people in this hybrid working equation. Your customers, investors, whoever they might be, need to be ok with your approach too
In sum, make your company ethos central to your employee engagement as a hybrid working business and your people will feel energised, connected and on board for the journey.
Author: Jane Sparrow, Founder and CCO, Tuddl
Photo credit: fauxels