4 Ways To Connect With And Empower Employees
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Keys To Success In Today’s World Of Hybrid Work

“It’s less about a place. It’s more about people’s potential.” This poignant message is emphasized in Accenture’s May 2021 report, The Future of Work: Productive Anywhere, and never has this message been more relevant than it is today. Equipped with the right resources, both on the personal and organizational level, people can be productive in any environment, whether working remotely or onsite. It all boils down to organizations understanding the potential of their employees, helping employees recognize their own goals and potential, and helping them along their paths toward success.

4 Ways To Connect With And Empower Employees

Four ways to better connect with and empower employees, wherever they may be:

1. Equip Them With The Right Tools

A hybrid model of work is here: Accenture’s report found that 83% of individuals favor this model. A recent McKinsey survey of 100 executives discovered that, in the post-pandemic future, nine out of 10 organizations will be combining remote and on-site working. Now, the question becomes: How do companies offer a flexible work environment while ensuring engagement, productivity, and ultimate success of their employees?

To accompany a new working reality, new tools are needed. Office Depot surveyed [1] nearly 1,000 remote workers, asking, "To be successful in this type of environment, what is needed?" Video conferencing apps were the top tool used on a regular basis, followed by team chat apps, cloud storage, and shared calendars. Productivity tracking and company tutorials related to internal processes and software use are among those on the list.

For instance, as demand for video conferencing and other apps has soared [2] during the pandemic, Cisco recently unveiled [3] its new suite, combining meetings, events, calling, and polling all in one platform.

The suite was specifically designed for hybrid work, as a Cisco survey of office workers found that, in the post-COVID world, 98% of meetings are expected to include at least one remote participant, whereas before, that number just stood at 8%. Because today, simply enabling connectivity is not enough, as organizations need to devise technology that is also flexible, inclusive, and supportive.

Collaboration tools are not only what’s needed, as companies also need to equip their employees with the right tools in their individual work for ultimate personal success. In the remote work environment, it will continue to be critical to have systems in place that help employees navigate through their daily routines, help them better prioritize, and trigger the right activity to be completed.

2. Invest In Effective Training And Onboarding

 A recent employee experience survey from Forrester Consulting found that learning and coaching require some attention. Of those surveyed, just half of the employees believe they are provided with the coaching, training, and development they need to grow, compared to 66% of HR professionals. Additionally, close to 40% of both people managers and direct reports think that corporate guidance and training are lacking. Although HR leaders rated learning and coaching as one of the most important drivers of a positive employee experience, they rate learning software as one of the least important tools for enabling this.

The need for better training and learning software is there, we just have to make it personalized and on-demand.

For distributed workforces especially, providing comprehensive and accessible learning and training tools is critical. Yet how can such programs be easily provided, in a hybrid workplace?

For instance, for a franchisee who is just getting started, high-quality training is key. Recognizing this, the mobile bike shop franchise velofix worked to create velofix University, offering all educational and standard operating procedure materials online. Distilled into four different modules, all training content was organized into a digital library, which franchisees were able to access on their own time. The platform helped the company support the ongoing learning of its franchisees from day one and in any distributed location, and spend more time focusing on the growth of the business.

3. Get To Know The Individual And Their Preferences

Fortunately, we have technology and data to help with this, capturing critical data and insights that will help guide organizations and ultimately inform decisions.

Whatever their preferences and goals may be, understanding where an individual is now in their journey and how you as a leader can help get them to where they want to be is critical. This is where performance enablement comes into play; such enablement platforms collect real-time data to measure employee behavior against a company’s KPIs, data which is then turned into practical steps for the employee to take.

In working with different large enterprises, our team has found that when training activities are inherently linked to an individual’s goals and performance, more desirable worker habits emerge. As individuals have varying personal and career goals, taking a standard one-size-fits-all approach is not likely to work (such as sending a flood of mass email communications). Additionally, individuals learn at their own pace, and from time to time, may require additional support beyond the initial training phase. This is why providing just-in-time microlearning experiences is critical.

At the get-go, asking the distributor a series of questions gives the organization a more in-depth picture of them, which will then lead to more engaged employees and a better overall experience. What motivates them? What drives them? What led them to choose this career path?

Additionally, it is key to understand the evolution of the learner, as today, along with a shifting workplace, behaviors and priorities have also shifted [4].

For instance, individuals may appreciate pull-based learning—gravitating more towards those immersive and platforms with captivating technology—rather than mandatory training and certifications. They may favor personalized recommendations and learning communities or curiosity-based learning (the desire to understand concepts and learn skills beyond the scope of the primary role).

4. Support The Small Connections

In their survey of executives, McKinsey discovered that organizations with the largest productivity boosts during the COVID-19 pandemic have been those which supported and encouraged small connections between colleagues. Such "microtransactions" could include opportunities to share ideas, network, and coach. Whether in the physical office or the virtual realm, in the workplace of the future, it is critical that organizations create the right spaces for such interactions to take place.

Moving forward, having the right systems in place that allow companies to better understand their workforces, and trigger even the smallest connections between people and departments will be crucial. This is all part of the necessary digital transformation through which so many forward-looking companies are undergoing today.

It’s time for a change. Whether a large organizational overhaul or small actions such as encouraging connections among colleagues, every step counts in the journey toward employee engagement and productivity. For business leaders, the time to innovate is now, as the world of work as we once knew it continues to transform around us.

References:

[1] Habits Of Successful Remote Workers 

[2] Cisco Relaunches Webex With New Branding and New Focus on Hybrid Meetings

[3] Cisco reveals new Webex to power ‘inclusive’ future of work

[4] Learning Reboot 2021: Employee wellness, organizational resilience, mental health & productivity

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