In a world reshaped by the pandemic and many workplaces reopening to in-person business, the idea of “reconnection” is being pushed to the forefront. As workers continue to make their way back into the office, now is the time for business leaders to refocus their efforts, understand how priorities may have changed for employees in their personal lives, and prioritise reconnection with individual staff members.
Naturally, after having spent months working from home, employees can feel disconnected when re-entering the physical workplace. Driven by the competing needs and expectations of hybrid work, as well as the needs of managers and customers, staff members can become burnt out. Alongside this, when looking at how teams now work together, communication in the workplace has seen a major change.
Business leaders looking to bolster their well-being efforts must think carefully about how they can both emotionally and physically reconnect with employees. In fact, putting in the extra effort to help staff members feel comfortable, happy, and safe will often inspire them to bring the best version of themselves to work. This will not only improve engagement levels but can also help to boost productivity, which drives better business outcomes for the entire organisation.
With this topic in mind, here are my top tips for business leaders looking to ease this transition back into the physical workplace:
Build trust with employees
The positive impact of trust in the workplace is becoming increasingly important, with 60% of employees stating that trust has a direct impact on their sense of belonging at work. For example, having regular and honest conversations with staff members can help them to open up about the pressures they may be feeling around returning to the workplace.
Essentially, there may be employees that feel apprehensive about sharing their thoughts due to fears of losing their jobs. It is in these situations that managers should take extra steps to eradicate this concern. Ways in which to do this include forming meaningful connections and being intentional in conversations to identify the individual needs of each and every employee.
Understand evolving employee priorities
It is important to recognise that employees might not be the same people you knew
eighteen months ago, and it is likely with new ways of working that their priorities could have shifted. This includes responsibilities such as child and elderly care and the relationship between their personal and professional lives. Managers must therefore ask questions that are specifically pointed to each employee’s situation. What has changed for them? What do they expect from their employer?
To help navigate this process, organisations should prioritise sourcing and actioning the voices of employees at the organisation. When employees do not feel heard or that their needs are being met, they are less likely to maximise their talents. In fact, research from the Workforce Institute at UKG found that organisations are more likely to perform well financially (88%) when employees feel heard, engaged, and connected.
Invest in life-work technology
With work and life intertwined more than ever before, a great way to establish workplace connection is to embrace the philosophy of life-work integration. This concept is based on recognising that employees have a life outside of work – and leveraging HCM technology to factor in people’s emotions and preferences, allowing them to work in a way that supports their lives and empowers them to thrive both at work and in life. If you want employees to feel comfortable when coming back to work, empower them with the right technology to support their personal and working lives.
It is not so much about how life fits around work anymore, it is about granting employees the autonomy to fit work around their personal commitments. Modern HR technology is a key enabler in helping today’s employees balance their personal and professional lives. Through workforce management technology, employers can communicate better with employees and eliminate mundane planning through automation.
Building connections with employees is not always going to be a one-step process. It takes time to build trust with individual staff members, learn about their new working situations, and embrace technology that can ease this transition. However, if your long-term goals are to bolster wellbeing, improve productivity levels, and drive better business outcomes, then workplace reconnection is a great place to start.
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