I have been reading every article I can find regarding how and when life will return to normal. The conclusion from scientists and academics alike seems to be: (i) not anytime in the immediate future; and (ii) not back to normal as we knew it.
I never thought too much about my coworkers’ children, spouses, roommates, home decor, or pets but they are now a part of my workday. This is a different way of working, that requires taking into consideration colleagues’ home situations for themselves, and for all of us.
This new work environment should be taken into consideration by our employers too. Each employee has a unique set of home circumstances which are now a part of their workday, and their colleagues and customers’ workdays. Managers ask employees how they can be supportive but are often facing new issues without much guidance.
In talking with several HR practitioners, I hear hesitation to send out a pulse survey for fear of not being able to address the issues. Many employers have put their regular pulses on hold. But now is the time to hear from employees and find creative new solutions and guidance for managers.
Managers and employees need a new level of support and connection from their employers. This goes well beyond a pulse survey asking about traditional work from home issues. Employees require a means of two-way communication with their employers that is personalized to their needs.
We can take advantage of the technology available for pulsing to help enable employers to reach out daily to check in with employees. This offers employees a means to raise new issues while offering employers a way to hear about them and begin problem-solving quickly. Imagine that the next daily pulse is a follow-up to the issue the employee raised the day before—instead of asking the same question again or, worse, asking a question completely irrelevant to the employee.
In this way, we could create real two-way communication that enables employees to raise issues any day and enables employers to hear issues—allowing them to understand growing problems, who are experiencing those problems, and where actions were taken are reducing issues.
Personalizing for every individual employee is not practical nor is it needed. Personalizing by issue creates groups of employees with similar issues and needs. This allows us to categorize employee responses into groups enabling broad personalization in follow up daily pulses.
Employers can receive ongoing feedback to inform decision-making in real-time while employees simultaneously feel a part of the solution and part of a two-way dialogue. Imagine further that employees are able to see a graph charting their responses over time compared to employees overall. This could be engaging, personalized, and could be what both employees and employers need to create a different way of communicating for a different way of working.
We are not going back to normal as we know it. We need regular ongoing input from our employees to understand this new and different way of working. According to experts at The Atlantic, there are at least four possible scenarios that come next. None of them involve us going back to our old normal. We need a different way of connecting with employees to support a different way of working going forward.