The art of listening to your employees
When drastic shifts are made to a workplace’s culture, it can cause confusion, discomfort, and a disconnect between employees and leadership. This is especially true in a crisis situation, when changes come swiftly and out of the blue.
It isn’t easy for HR leaders to stay in tune with the needs of employees when a large part of their lives - be it at work or outside of it - has been upended. But in the face of rapid change, it is important for HR leaders to provide an added layer of support to their people.
To do this, organizations should be prioritizing their efforts to listen. In this article we’ll cover how to create a plan for gathering information, communicating with employees, and supporting your teams, all through multiple touchpoints.
HR leaders as active liaisons
Dedicated channels for communication
It’s vital to understand that even when the majority of employees are puzzled and insecure about change, some still may not feel comfortable speaking up. To give employees the information they need, leadership can set up a specific online portal with resources, as well as a dedicated channel for comms in whichever chat platform the company uses. These channels create a centralized hub for information and help your team streamline and minimize internal communication efforts.
To understand the evolving needs of your employees, you need to interface with them more often. A simple way to get a read on employee sentiment is by creating short, user-friendly surveys to dive deep into topics of concern each week. This not only helps identify employee concerns, but also builds a database of feedback to evaluate the evolution of your employees’ voice over time.
Gauge and respond
Using this feedback, HR leaders can send out regular communications to cover topics that are affecting a large part of the workforce. A productive way to start is by sharing information around the most common concerns. If you find that your employees are bringing up uncomfortable topics such as job security or the company’s growth and financials, don’t shy away. Transparency builds employee trust and mitigates unfounded concerns.
Emotional and economic concerns could take a toll on your employees. If your budget allows, contracting a counselor could help employees navigate uncertain times. If that’s hard to accomplish, consider organizing virtual workshops with experts such as health coaches or financial advisors to address these concerns.
Connecting employees for virtual meet-ups provides a platform for them to bond, vent, or share experiences. Participants can exchange resources that help them cope, such as a podcast they follow or an article they read online. However, consider making such activities optional to respect everyone’s off-time.
Managers as compassionate mentors
Regular team check-ins
Team leads should establish a consistent schedule for virtual team chats to ensure that everyone has the resources they need to accomplish targets. The discussion could focus on topics like personal fulfillment, challenges faced, and suggestions to make working from home easier on everyone.
While connecting with individual employees one-on-one is time-consuming, it’s also crucial when situations are complicated and stressful. Individuals feel more comfortable sharing issues when speaking in an intimate setting, in turn enabling team leads to provide more tailored support.
Lead by example
Try to build a level of trust and understanding to adapt to unique circumstances. Teammates tend to open up to a leader who comes from an empathetic place. When possible, talk about things that make you relatable - the more human you are, the stronger the trust can be between you and your employees.
Ask teammates to volunteer their support
While some people are struggling with time management, others have mastered the art. Encourage those who have found their footing to help their teammates. Something as simple as sending a note of appreciation or offering to help with backlogged tasks can go a long way.
Employee experience can be viewed as a defining point. Not only does it decide how a company is perceived but it also paves the path to ultimate success. Happier and satisfied employees lead to enhanced productivity and innovation. Now is the time to make your people feel heard and cared for. A company that supports its workforce during hardships is sure to garner unparalleled loyalty and respect, virtues that can set your organization apart.