Think Big Picture & Take a Look Ahead

By Alexandra Powell, U.S. Director of Client Culture and Engagement, Reward Gateway

Organizations have spent the last few months adapting to unforeseen circumstances and rapidly developing plans to ensure their employees stay connected and motivated. Now that most companies have settled in to their new normal and they’ve put processes and policies in place to support a workforce comprised of remote, onsite and hybrid workers, the third article in our series outlines the key considerations for HR leaders as they think about the big picture and take a look ahead at what our workforce connections will look like and how that will impact the bottom line.

How HR Leaders are Shaping the Workforce of the Future

Everything HR leaders do is about people, so in the new environment of  “work anywhere, anytime” it’s going to be a challenge to adapt workforce planning strategies to meet everyone’s needs. But while the physical work may be changing, company values don’t. They provide consistency and purpose regardless of where and when people are working. Aligning company values with increased frequency and transparency of communications, especially when companies are making tough decisions, will help employees feel more connected and understand where these changes are coming from.

Read More: Put your People First: An Open Letter to CEOs

HR leaders can move from a focus on togetherness among colleagues to establishing agile work-from-home meeting structures with virtual meetings. They can design processes such as online onboarding for new employees rather than in person, as well as develop tools to support frontline workers who are adjusting to the workplace changes as well.

As we further embrace a future of managing a distributed workforce and accommodating the wide variety of needs of employees in different physical settings, it is important to consider how the convergence of virtual and in-person cultures will impact employee productivity, morale and employee engagement.

Embracing Technology to Put the Human in Human Resources

 While we could once walk down the hall to someone’s office or workspace, now many of us are adjusting to the reality of not being physically located with our co-workers and coming up with new ways to stay connected virtually. What’s great about technology is that it can complement the human interaction we all crave, while also adding levels of efficiency and creativity that may not have been uncovered in previous work environments.

While there are some roles and industries that see the potential to use technology to replace people, that is not the case in Human Resources. What we are seeing is technology bringing us together as shared workspaces would have in the past. Today technology extends our reach to across the country and the world so that more of what we do  can be focused on strategy and execution.

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Some of the ways HR technology facilitates human interaction and collaboration include:

  • Deploying survey tools to gather input and feedback so employees feel they have input to what’s going on and that their voices are being heard
  • Enhancing internal communications platform, via blogs for example, to share important information and give employees a regular pulse in to what’s happening across the business
  • Supporting a social recognition strategy that recognizes accomplishments and shares the recognition publicly with the company to celebrate achievements that might otherwise go unnoticed when employees aren’t together to ring a celebratory bell or raise a glass to toast
  • And perhaps the most important, using analytics to identify how and where the company is seeing the impact of strong employee engagement across their workforce, as well as gaps that need attention and improvement.

 Keeping Your Company Culture Fit with a Remote Workforce

 So now that HR leaders have accepted what the workforce of the future looks like and embraced the technologies that will support and drive employee engagement strategy, what more does the company need to do? It needs to ensure its culture doesn’t slip away without the face-to-face interaction and social activities that typically build and strengthen personal relationships at work – so how do they do that?

The companies that are well prepared for this new era are the companies who are consistently cultivating culture, especially when people may not be face-to-face. As employers weigh the pros and cons of “work anywhere, anytime” and how they can maintain a sense of belonging, community and connection, culture matters more than ever before.

One way companies keep their culture alive and well is by reinforcing the mission, purpose and values so that employees remember what they’re all working towards and why the culture was strong in the first place. Some companies see improved employee performance and morale by raising their reward and recognition game. Other companies rely on internal communications and sharing recognition to stay connected and keep their culture alive. These are ideas that anyone can adopt, they may just need to be adapted to a remote workforce. Surveying teams for what they need to be most productive and safe, as well as collaborating with cross-functional leadership can drive this process.

As business leaders continue to mine the strategies and tactics that will deliver strong employee engagement in the COVID-19 world, planning for the workforce of the future, leveraging technology to support those plans and strengthening company culture will be the keys for HR leaders thinking ahead to the future.

Read More: Top Wearable Technologies That Can Help Maintain Employee Health And Safety

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