The events of 2020 have shone a spotlight on our industry. With some staff back at work and some still working from home, ‘business-as-usual’ has been anything but, and our sector has had to quickly pivot to meet ever changing requirements and regulations – ultimately to help keep employees (and customers) safe.
Stages of change
As we have moved through various stages of the pandemic, it has been interesting to speak to colleagues about some of the key trends to emerge.
What has been clear from my conversations with industry human resources leaders is that there seem to be three distinct stages of change that HR leaders are moving through within this transitionary period – the three Rs :
- React: This is the period of questioning – examining what has happened and how to move forward.
- Respond: Here, leaders start to foster change, implementing HR and IT policies organisation-wide.
- Return: This final stage results in transformation into new environments and processes, accommodating employees and customers alike.
Navigating uncertain waters
This has undoubtedly been a very uncertain time for organisations. Most employers and personnel have never experienced anything like this in their lifetime and with no set path to follow, navigating through these three stages has proven to be challenging. However, what’s clear is that without the ability to check in on employees and understand their changing views, organisations can find it difficult to move beyond the initial reaction stage.
What has become clear during this period is that business is all about people. It is the human moments that are the biggest driver of employee engagement and recent months have seen leaders taking the time to think about employees and take into account what works for them in terms of best working practices. Companies who have done this successfully have seen a huge improvement in employee engagement as employees feel valued and heard.
Central to this success is communication, and fostering an open and two-way dialogue between employees and employees has never been more important. However, some organisations have found that easier than others to do. As with any relationship, the bond between employer and employee has been tested within this period. However, like all meaningful relationships, communication is key to success – acting as a bridge between the two parties.
Traditional annual surveys used by companies to sense the mood of employees have fallen short here. Potentially, this is through poor timing—missing this entire pandemic and failing to capture the true sentiment of employees. Better instead would be to run quick yet regular surveys that tap into the true pulse of employees whose sentiments and emotions have been likely to fluctuate as the pandemic has unfolded. What we are talking about here is a simple “are you OK?” to employees. This relatively quick exercise not only takes the temperature of your team, but also builds trust amongst your employees so they can feel both valued and heard.
This process of continuous communication—listening to your employees and acting on employee feedback—is the key to long-term HR success, particularly in this turbulent period. Actively listening to the customer base is something which sectors, such as Marketing have done well for years, – however HR may be playing catch up.
The future is tech
Technology can help here, aiding organisations to capture valuable data about employees that drives insight and fosters change in real time.
Feedback tools can help gather employee feedback and ideas on an ongoing basis. By analysing key drivers of engagement including belonging, happiness, recognition, leadership, enablement, alignment, and development, organisations can gain insights based on key employee demographics. This in turn can enable HR leaders to take action in real-time on what matters most to employees.
The uncertainty experienced during the pandemic has helped to push people analytics and employee listening practices across the board. And technology such as AI and text analytics has allowed HR teams to foster this change through facilitation of open, two-way communication between leaders and employees—enabling real-time, actionable insights into how employees are feeling at any moment. As companies continue to respond to the constantly evolving situation the pandemic has created, implementing a platform that is specifically designed for taking action can foster continuous listening and create real, positive change.