With the pandemic resetting work trends in unimaginable ways even a few years ago, everything, from workforce management to employee experience, has been at the forefront of disruption. Before the pandemic hit, the boundaries of employee experience were well-defined. Within the office, it was the organization’s responsibility to ensure a seamless experience for the employees. Beyond that, however, the onus lay with the employee. Thanks to the remote working scenario, these artificial barriers completely faded.

Making employees feel connected to the organization and each other is especially critical, with most of them scattered across different workspaces — their homes. No matter where the workforce is located, enabling the same experience and opportunities for each one of them is the goal for HR leaders in the new normal. Organizations have the unique opportunity to redefine the employee touchpoints and create an experience that focuses on their workforce’s overall well-being and work-life balance.

Navigating the new way of working

As employees, on a large scale, turned their homes into workspaces, employee experience, as we knew it, became obsolete. New challenges emerged with HR teams who were constantly reinventing employee experiences in the virtual set-up and keeping employees engaged. So, what are the steps that HR leaders can take to plan for the future of work? The following 6 HR resolutions will provide a broad framework in structuring the employee experience strategy: 

  • From survival to redesign: With the sudden shift to virtual workspaces, organizations focused on becoming operational to ensure that all the capabilities are in place and collaborative tools are deployed. Once the initial phase of surviving the disruption was over, redefining the employee experience was the key to addressing the uncertainty and keeping the workforce assured, engaged, and motivated. As we take the initial steps in return to the office phase, organizations need to redesign their work experience based on employee expectations and wellbeing.
  • Put your people first: Unless the safety and wellness of its people are at the very core of the organizational DNA, businesses cannot reach their strategic goals and achieve long-term success. Creating a workplace where employees feel valued, empowered, and encouraged to balance their personal and professional lives should be at the forefront of their business strategy. Simply put, organizations that have prioritized employee safety and security during the pandemic and continue to do so will reap the real benefits of being an employer of choice.
  • Building trust with empathetic leadership: By adopting the new way of working, leaders have managed, connected, and collaborated with their teams in new and unique ways. With a location-agnostic workforce, organizations needed to show more trust in their people, which motivated employees to be more trustworthy. Now, it’s time to build on it by continuing to be present and empathetic while incorporating people-centric practices and being transparent about the company’s policies. A more adaptable leadership that’s sensitive to the overall wellbeing of its people will drive positive employee behaviour and lead to happy and healthy work culture. 
  • Evolve your Employee Value Proposition: For any organization, the Employee Value Proposition (EVP) isn’t something that’s devised during inception and stays that way. It is a living document that needs to be reviewed and updated by HR leaders depending on the changing needs of the employees. What differentiates a good EVP from a great one is admitting when things need to change and being open to the evolution of your EVP. That could make all the difference when it comes to attracting top talent or building an inspiring work culture. 
  • Engage and Up-skill your workforce: The past year has underlined the need to focus on employee engagement for remote teams, a practice that must continue to be a priority in the future way of working – whether it is remote, hybrid, or in-person. Building personalized learning and growth programs, facilitating cross-functional collaboration, and flexible work schedules are factors that ultimately lead to good employee experience, ensuring long-term association with a sense of purpose and satisfaction. 
  • Foster a culture that values inclusion: For businesses across industries, the future of work will have different working models and team structures. And, only the ones that build an integrated, positive, and inclusive culture will benefit in the long run. In the new normal and beyond, organizations need to offer a better place to work and a better way of working that values the inputs of all the team members and encourages individuality. 

In conclusion, although employee experience will constantly be evolving, one thing is certain- organizations that make it a priority will have the edge over those who fail to do so in the post-pandemic era. The benefits will be many, whether it is creating better employee experience, having access to global talent pools, or increased loyalty. The pandemic-spurred disruption created an inflection point for businesses to reimagine where they want to be in the future of work.

The author, Milind Mutalik, is Head of Employee Experience at Accolite Digital.

The article has been originally published in The Times of India.

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