Restrictions in many countries have lifted, and employees have returned or are thinking about returning to the office.
However, while certain aspects of life are clearly returning to a degree of normality, it is critical that business leaders recognize the world of work is not the same as it was before.
With over a year of remote working, and work and life becoming increasingly intertwined, individual staff members’ priorities, needs, and expectations have evolved.
When moving from screen time to face–to-face, the reality is that many employees can feel disconnected when re-entering the physical workplace.
In fact, not only have social dynamics and interactions changed but there are also the competing needs of hybrid work to consider, as well as the expectations of managers and customers.
Eliminating workplace burnout should therefore be a key focus for enterprises as employees return to the office.
In light of this, now is the time for organizations across all industries to refocus their efforts, understand how priorities have changed for people in their personal lives, and focus on reconnection with each and every employee.
As business leaders continue to actively encourage workers to return to the physical workplace, reconnection with individual staff members must be considered as a foundational imperative.
Putting in the extra effort to connect with employees both physically and emotionally 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 outcomes for the entire organization. After all, great businesses are truly powered by great people.
Here is a list of my top three steps for business leaders looking to reconnect employees with the physical workplace, as well as inspire them to succeed in their daily work lives.
Act upon the voices of employees
People have changed over the past eighteen months – so have their priorities, and it is critical that organizations recognize this adjustment.
Adjustments now include responsibilities, such as child and elderly care, as well as the relationship between employees’ 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, organizations should focus on sourcing and actioning the voices of their employees. When employees feel heard and that their needs are being met, they are more likely to maximize their talents.
In fact, organizations are more likely to perform well financially (88% higher) when employees feel heard, engaged, and connected. Business leaders looking to enhance workplace reconnection must therefore first listen and then act upon the voice of the employee in order to sustain long-term success.
Maintain trust with staff members
The power of trust in reconnecting employees with the physical workplace is undeniable. According to a recent survey by the Workforce Institute at UKG, 60% of employees state 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 office.
There may be employees that feel apprehensive about sharing their thoughts due to fears of being idle or losing their jobs. It is in these situations that managers should take extra steps to eradicate this concern and establish trust within the organization.
Ways in which to do this include forming meaningful connections and being intentional in conversations to identify the specific needs of each and every employee.
Put simply, trust is essential in creating a happy, healthy, and engaged workforce, wherever they may be located.
Invest in life-work technology
Modern commitments, coupled with the new business landscape reshaped by the pandemic, have led to an evolution in the way work and life operate in tandem with one another.
As part of this process, an increasing number of organizations are embracing the philosophy of life-work integration, which is based around having the freedom to choose when and where to work – and living life in between.
This means business leaders should grant employees the autonomy to fit tasks around their personal commitments, which will help them to feel comfortable when returning to the physical workplace.
Investing in life-work technology is a great way to facilitate this balance.
For example, through the use of workforce management technology, employers can communicate better with employees and eliminate mundane planning through automation.
This is especially true for human capital management (HCM) software, which has the ability to track time effectively and incorporate every aspect of HR management under one roof.
By giving organizations greater visibility of their worker’s schedules, employees can enjoy the true harmony of life-work integration and feel comfortable when returning to the office.
Reconnecting with employees can be extremely beneficial for the entire organization. Business leaders who recognize the need to listen to the expectations of employees as they return to the office will have a more engaged workforce as a result, and ultimately a more successful business.
If your long-term goals are based around bolstering wellbeing and driving better business outcomes, then listening to employees, building trust, and investing in life-work technology is a great way to achieve this.