For organizations embracing digital transformation as they head into 2022, technology is, of course, at the forefront. Many businesses are solidifying their remote or hybrid approaches to the workplace, and having the right tech solution in place will be vital to maximizing time and productivity. However, leaders should be mindful that implementing even the best tech solutions without an employee-first approach sets your business up for a challenging road ahead.
Earlier this year, the annual MIT Sloan Management Review found that burnout is up 9%, as 52% of employees have reported experiencing the feeling. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will continue into the new year, and leaders need to determine the right balance between driving toward their organization’s goals and ensuring employee wellness. Here are three ways managers can lead with empathy and improve the overall employee experience.
Be more employee-centric than office-centric.
Time and again, we’ve seen organizations that put employee centricity in the front seat perform better than others. In 2020, businesses focused on employee wellbeing were able to navigate the unprecedented crisis better and support their employees emotionally, physically and mentally to help them move forward.
As the way employees work and connect continues to evolve, business leaders and managers need to create a strategy that supports team members in all ways possible. For instance, if you choose to adopt the hybrid model, you need to ensure that proximity bias is not holding your team members back. Proximity bias is the incorrect assumption that employees will be more productive when working from the office and closely with their managers. As a result, those who prefer to work remotely may develop a sense of insecurity and force themselves to the office, thinking that their managers might not perceive them as better workers otherwise.
Have a framework in place to encourage a level playing field for both on-site and remote workers. Show openness and willingness to listen and understand what your employees expect from you. Use that information to create communication plans and organizational processes. For example, have regular check-ins to overcome proximity bias and ensure fair performance evaluations and promotions.
Use AI-enabled tech to facilitate flexibility and transparency.
Tech can be an enabler of positive employee experience. It helps break down silos and barriers to allow leaders to see what’s really happening across their teams and provide the necessary support. For instance, professional services automation (PSA) software provides project managers with real-time insights on work done, remaining work, estimated completion dates and potential bottlenecks. Since all the data is stored in the cloud, managers can access this data anytime and anywhere. This level of transparency allows managers and business leaders to make proactive decisions and overcome proximity bias to deal with adversities more emphatically.
Invest in technology and tools that make your employees’ jobs easier and support their ability to carry out the most critical responsibilities. Automate administrative and other menial tasks to save your employees time and use it for relationship building. For instance, time tracking software that tightly integrates with your payroll, CRM, ERP and HRM systems can save substantial administrative overhead and several hours every day.
Lead with empathy.
The Covid-19 crisis and its aftereffects have impacted people in ways we have yet to understand fully. The work environment has a massive impact on employees’ lives beyond day-to-day responsibilities and their employer’s bottom line. Remote work has dramatically blurred the line between personal and work life. Longer work hours and increased caregiving responsibilities forced 309,000 women to leave the workforce in September alone. Parents and primary caregivers are putting work-hour flexibility ahead of compensation.
To attract and retain talent, managers need to lead with empathy. Employees who feel valued and can achieve work-life balance are more willing to challenge themselves to provide better results. Create employee benefits with empathy as the foundation. Draft a document with your company’s core values and make sure that all your employees understand them. Providing perks like child care, additional time off for family care, flexible working hours and more can go a long way to making employees feel valued.
It takes a team to build a culture of empathy.
Creating an empathy-driven work culture requires time and support from your teams. Trustworthy relationships are not built in a day. However, by taking small steps every day, you can foster a deeper connection. When employees realize that you are willing to take the extra steps to understand how they feel, they develop a special bond with their co-workers and the organization even when working remotely. Practicing empathy is a simple gesture that can create the high productivity culture needed to thrive in the post-pandemic era.
Original Source: Forbes