Updated February 2021
We know from research that a positive employee experience is good for business. Quite simply, organizations that create exceptional experiences for employees see exceptional results:
- 17% higher productivity
- 21% higher profitability
- 24% lower staff turnover.
And in the current situation, maintaining and enhancing the employee experience is even more important. Because when your team is engaged and on side, everyone emerges connected, committed and ready to move forward with purpose.
Here are three thoughts on how businesses could enhance their employee experience – and add value to the business.
Fulfil your duty of care for home workers
As an employer you have a duty of care to your employees and this covers their emotional well-being, as well as their physical safety.
In the Harvard Business Review, three leadership and management experts comment that loneliness is one of the most common complaints about remote working; they highlight that this isolation can cause employees to feel less a part of their organization and even make them more likely to want to leave the company.
To combat this, their suggestions include regular structured check-ins with staff, both in team situations and one-on-one. They also advise facilitating social interaction to maintain interpersonal relationships. This helps maintain the sense of ‘belonging’.
You should also consider how to support employees as they transition to working from home, especially if it’s new to them. Remind them about the importance of structure and routine, and encourage them to create a dedicated, ergonomic workspace. However, as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) points out, working remotely can make it it difficult to carve out a healthy work/life balance. "As a result, you should communicate to your employees the importance of creating boundaries. Suggest that they work their normal hours and then step away from the computer until it's time to start working the next day." The organization also recommends that employers change thier productivity mindset, encourging them "to take steps to lighten things up and help reduce feelings of isolation."
Likewise, it's important to keep in mind that their lives and homes may be under a great deal of pressure during this moment. Many employees are juggling childcare as well as work, while others are living entirely by themselves – which can amplify feelings of isolation. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce suggests "leaders should additionally encourage self-care among employees, who mentally are trying to adapt to remote work, the stress of new environments and the stress of daily updates around COVID-19. Managers should advocate for remote employees to exercise, get quality sleep, take showers, and continue on with lives as normally as they can."
Review your work from home expense policies
With so many employees working from home, it’s likely your expense policy is being put to the test. Take the opportunity to review it and make sure it’s fit for this new purpose.
Similarly, your expense policy may need to be reviewed or amended, even if it’s only temporarily. For example, while under normal circumstances employees would not be allowed to reclaim broadband or heating costs, this may need to be reviewed in these circumstances. And if you provide free or subsidized food on site, will staff be able to make a subsistence claim for lunch while working from home?
Thinking about these things will demonstrate your practical commitment to your employees.
Providing care in a time of uncertaintiy means rethinking the way things have always been done
Many businesses will seize this opportunity to look at things from a brand-new perspective and make changes while there is time and headspace to do so. Processes that were cumbersome before may simply not work in this new, remote world. How could they be improved so they put people first, be more efficient, and better fit-for-purpose in abnormal times?
A report from Gartner says, “While managers and employees may understandably become more risk-averse in this uncertain environment, it is during these times of change and disruption that innovation and risk-taking become even more important for employee engagement and organizational success. Even when the organization has constraints on new investments, managers can emphasize the need and provide opportunities for incremental innovation or process improvements. This can be particularly meaningful if it addresses a challenge the team or organization is facing related to process disruptions or business impact.”
Now is the time to reach out and rethink prior processes because keeping employees engaged and connected is really important for good business. Just because it’s the way things have always been done, doesn’t mean it’s sufficient.
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