Enabling People Towards Their New Normal - Employee Engagement and Managing Change
Using the enablers of engagement will help support your people to transition back to office life. As people begin to transition back to work in offices - albeit full time or in a blended approach - it's clearly important to make this as smooth a process as possible. The four enablers of engagement, as devised by Engage for Success, are a useful checklist to ensure you approach this important task the right way.
Give your people the Strategic Narrative
Hopefully your leaders have been stepping up and communicating regularly throughout the pandemic; it's important that this continues. People will want to know timelines, how they and customers will be kept safe, and what will change. Always remember that silence is filled with rumour; so your leaders should strive to swiftly state the facts and help employees to visualise what the return to office life will look like. No surprises!
Ensure you have Engaging Managers
People want a personalised experience at work, so as well as corporate messaging, it's important that managers listen to individual concerns. Managers need to take personal responsibility for knowing and understanding any changes to working practices and give frontline employees the confidence that there is, indeed, a well thought out plan. Also, work must continue; so managers should continue to coach and stretch their teams, setting objectives and giving regular feedback on performance. As the old saying goes, a bit of praise goes a long way, so managers should seek to embrace a recognition culture and thank their teams not only for good work, but for displaying flexibility in these changing times.
Have effective Employee Voice mechanisms in place
Many employees will be anxious, so it's important that their opinions are heard and feedback is given about any concerns raised. Survey your people about what the future of work should look like, encourage employees to discuss matters with employee representative groups, and give dedicated time and space to answer queries in Q&A sessions or feedback mailboxes. Any major changes to work practices usually require trade union representation, so get these on-side by having pro-active discussions with them. Do see your employees as being central to the solution and not 'the problem'. After all, they're the ones who know the work best.
Now is the time to truly live your values. Consider having a vision and values refresh campaign to align your people to positive behaviours. Ensure there is no say-do gap; where senior leaders say one thing, yet do the opposite. For example, if senior leaders can decide when to work from home, then others should be able to, where appropriate for their job role. Especially at this sensitive time, promises made, must be promises kept; so if you promise to keep your employees and customers safe yet fail to do so; expect social media to soon know about it! More about the enablers can be found on the Engage for Success website.
Profile: Nicholas Wardle Head of Employee Engagement & Communications at One Housing and co-founder of the Employee Experience Opportunity
Bio: Nicholas is an award-winning communicator with over a dozen years' experience in the comms/engagement/employee experience space, both in the UK and in the Middle East. Nicholas is a Fellow of the Institute of Internal Communications (IoIC),and a committee member of both Engage for Success, and IoIC London. His mantra is to 'keep the complex, simple' and he believes that the employee experience should have parity with the customer experience.