Most traditional tools used to boost employee motivation cannot be deployed any longer. Post-Covid period calls for a radical shift in employee management
Doctors and medical researchers agree that a new pandemic is brewing on the horizon. This news has sent shockwaves as we have barely dealt with the current one. Long after COVID-19 is gone, it will have left a trail of stress, anxiety and depression in its wake. While the physical safety of employees is of utmost importance just now, enterprises must note — and act on — the long-term psychological needs of their workforce. The World Health Organization estimates that India will suffer economic losses amounting to a staggering $1.03 trillion from mental health conditions by 2030. By acting now, we can reduce the loss and, more importantly, mitigate mental agony.
Anxiety is turning into a health crisis as the pandemic creates uncertainty around lives and livelihoods; it isolates people, reducing the primary feedback mechanism that helps channel or positively affirms our actions and behaviour. What can responsible organisations do to address the growing anxiety?
Help employees tackle uncertainty
Our experience shows that effective and persistent communication is an essential component of a successful business. While employees are keeping themselves updated on the day-to-day actions of the business, they are keen to know the overall health of the organisation and its long-term strategy for sustenance and as well as growth.
Each employee knows that their roles are linked to the organisation’s progress. To address their anxieties, organisations should communicate with every employee regularly.
This brings tools like the internal newsletter, emails, town halls, etc., centre stage. Updating employees consistently will instil confidence that the organisation is working on prudent solutions and is confident in its approach. As the pandemic continues, employees will look forward to regular reassurance, and therefore a planned communication calendar will help cement your position as a transparent, thoughtful and dedicated employer.
Instilling remote wellness framework
In the not-so-familiar working environment, organisations can implement a remote wellness framework. This ranges from doctor on call, psychological counselling, online meditation and fitness sessions to virtual team lunches and/or games to keep employees motivated and engaged.
These initiatives can enable an encouraging atmosphere as employees have a hassle-free work infrastructure as well as a robust support system within the organisation. It can further help mitigate stress and boost performance levels to help achieve pre-pandemic level results.
Promote work-life balance
While work from home comes with its perks, a lot of employees are dealing with burn-outs and lack of personal space. Back-to-back virtual meetings, work pile-up and no prospects of a real vacation have pushed employees to the brink. In the recent Adaptavist Digital Etiquette Study, new digital communication and productivity challenges have emerged.
‘Always on’ i.e. the absence of boundaries between work and personal lives was the highest-ranked threat to motivation for employees followed by the inefficient use of digital channels and lack of consensus on digital etiquette which leads to anxiety.
Organisations must guide team leaders to promote a hard-stop to end work within regular work hours (i.e. 9 A.M. to 6 P.M). This thought should reflect in all work relationships ranging from manager-subordinates, peer-to-peer as well as agency and supply partners.
Companies should put forth a strong Work from Home policy to address work timings, clearly state working days to avoid spillovers on weekend and continue the leave and vacation calendar as usual.
Virtual accolades to boost motivation
Most traditional tools used to boost employee motivation cannot be deployed any longer. Physical events, for example, to recognise achievements are impossible to hold. That leaves promotions and pay hikes to drive motivation.
But new environments call for new thinking. To maintain motivational levels, organisations should create platforms which celebrate exemplary work done by teams and individuals beyond their mandates.
As an extension of this, HR can also create forums which enable teams and individuals to gratify each other on achievements ranging from skills to operational success. Even in the pandemic-free world, these tools will go a long way to sustain productivity levels and keep the employee aligned to the organisation’s goal.
The writer is Executive Vice President – Human Resources and Information Technology, TVS Motor Company