It would be difficult to find a person who doesn’t long for ‘the old days. The normal lives we lived had routines and practices with which we were all comfortable. Whether we liked every aspect of them or not, at least we got up every day and carried on with our routine. We knew what we had to do and what was expected of us … whether by others or ourselves. Of course, I’m not talking about decades ago. In fact, these routines and the related comfort with them only went out the window about 7 months ago.
So much pertaining to our lives was turned upside down and inside out including the workplace. For many people fortunate enough to still have a job, they were relegated to working from home which, by itself, was the cause of much upheaval in that known and comfortable routine. Working from home … often with other family members present … was a challenge with which most had little if any experience. On the other hand to those whose jobs went away, the concern and turmoil created has upended some lives as never before imagined or experienced.
With the changes that have been imposed on employer and employee alike, it behooves us to willingly shift our ideas of what’s possible after the curve flattens. How to encourage and develop the loyalty on which any organization depends in both directions is the challenge. This first of a two-part blog will first address changes that organizations as employers must consider. How do they devise ways that allow them to bring people back to the workplace in a fashion that lets the business to progress and also keep all on the team safe given the realities of this ‘new normal’ world.
What Loyalty Will Look Like from the Employer or Boss
For businesses who have been able to stay afloat or even thrive during the pandemic they have done so by allowing or even requiring that employees work from home when possible. In moving forward there are things a business is going to have to recognize and incorporate into how they operate in this new arena. Diana Vienne is a senior partner with Notion Consulting. In an article penned Fast Company she has aptly identified five changes that organization will need to consider and embrace for them to get employee loyalty on which a good portion of their success depends. They are as follows:
- Allow for a virtual workforce
Just because the company has devised ways to open and still maintain safety doesn’t mean that all employees will be able to return to an office environment. Having children at home who are virtually attending school remains one reality. Thus, and because the organization has been able to function with a home-based team for several months, is there really the need to change? Probably not unless the organization simply wants life to be what it was way back when ‘in the old days’.
- A willingness to judge progress on output rather than facetime
Being the first one in the office and the last one to leave is no longer a measure of commitment and performance. In a post-COVID-19 world, employees will be measured on what gets done and the value of their work rather than on the individual tasks and the time it takes to get the work done. Leaders will need to provide clear, outcome-driven expectations enabling employees to deliver on goals successfully. Such a focus rather than specific tasks needs to happen.
- Recognition of the need for a work-life balance
The idea of expecting employees to work a nine to five workday is just unsuited to the demands of the workforce that will emerge from the COVID era. Flexibility in allowing the employee to accomplish their best work while meeting individual needs can be a positive motivation to team members. To the extent the leaders themselves demonstrate such a model enables this to become a part of the company culture.
- Revamped channels of communication
COVID has forced upon organizations a change in the method of communicating. For several months communicating has been significantly altered. No more just popping into another’s office or cubicle to give or get input. It has often required some advance planning to set up a zoom style meeting or even atelephone call. Employers will need to provide employees with the tools and training they need to operate effectively. Likewise, they will need to use an effective format to spread needed input that will allow for successful outcome of efforts being made.
- Increased Trust and transparency of and with employees
Being able and willing to trust employees to do what they are expected to do is a key element of establishing asuccessful environment in this new work world. And in order to reinforce the loyalty that is needed for success, the employee will need to feel this. Understanding and support must go in both directions which requires good listening and empathy of and for all.
Leaders that demonstrate these qualities and officially recognize excellence in their people will earn greater trust and loyalty from their employees. Leaders who seize this mindset now will be better prepared to engage employees for the long term, regardless of the external environment.
Coming: The next blogpost will address required changes of the employee in order for them to receive and maintain loyalty of their employer. Regardless of the job being for one’s current employer or a new one given the need or desire to find new employment, a willingness to accept and adapt to the revised ‘normal’ makes a solid footing within an organization achievable and realistic.