Great CEOs and senior leaders are preoccupied with creating a positive employee experience. This entails leading from the heart and putting in place resources and support structures that ensure employees are engaged and can deliver their work with minimal distractions.
Doing this continually calls for deliberate effort on leaders, it cannot be a spare time activity. The current pandemic has also exposed what organisations might have taken for granted or they practised but did not leverage optimally:
#1. Tools of the trade: Employees who were previously denied access to cellphones and laptops were now deemed to be deserving of these tools of the trade. Online platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft teams and other online conferencing facilities were no longer the preserve of the C-suite as they were extended to employees at the last minute to be able to perform work during the lockdown. This is a good time to redefine the ways of working and explore how these can be optimised for employee engagement to enhance productivity.
#2. Policies promoting engagement: The work from home and flexible working policies that were gathering dust were pulled out and brushed to ensure that work should continue away from the brick and mortar we call companies. This should be the realisation that policies should not be written for the sake of having them, but should be implemented for the purposes for which they were initiated in the first place.
#3. People are our most important asset: Supply chain and operations challenges aggravated by a shortage of team members exposed the most uttered but poorly practised statement that people are our most important asset. This crisis revealed that companies are not brick and mortar but people. The lesson is that people should be treated respectfully to instil confidence which leads to more engaged and productive workforce.
#4. Emotional and cultural intelligence: This pandemic goes beyond health, it affects the livelihood of employees, their families, financial stability and their continued employability. As a result, leaders had to confront what they dread the most, showing compassion, empathy and connection to people. This is a nudge to leaders to be perceptively in tune with themselves and be relationally aware to lead their teams effectively.
#5. Creating shared value: Organisations found themselves extending beyond their normal social responsibility to explore other initiatives in support of COVID-19. Other companies put competition aside and collaborated on measures of the common good to help the institutions in need. This presents an opportunity for leaders to exceed what is expected of them and partner effectively towards dealing with socio-economic challenges of this beautiful country head-on.
Some companies were way ahead of the curve as they made decisions faster because they do not provide lip service to employee engagement. They understand the value of social distancing and rushed with speed to put measures in place to protect their employees while making quick decisions to support social distancing. Working from home and supporting virtual teams with necessary tools had always been their way of working. The pandemic did not find them lost, they might not have had the full story but because treating people with care and love is imbued in their value system, they were able to make bold decisions to put their people first.
You have a choice to put your organisation among the best and lead the curve. You can be among this league of progressive leaders by tightening the elements above to improve the employee experience and to create shared value beyond profit considerations. The HR folk should take the lead and partner with business leaders in deepening the positive employee experience into the fabric of the organisation.
Tex Hlalele is a Life & Business Coach, Consultant, Speaker and Author. Book Tex for speaking engagements and to help you and your team gain insights and possibilities for individual learning and organizational advancement on +2764 656 6174 or visit http://www.dreamsmadepossible.co.za/contact.html. He is the author of the book, Face the person in the mirror.