Employment engagement through COVID-19 and beyond

engagement

With remote working and dispersed teams here to stay, employee engagement – and its knock-on effect to client service – is top of mind for HR leaders. It’s now time for HR teams and business leaders to consider how their overall strategy empowers their people to do their best work, writes Luke Clark, CEO of Canon Business Services (Harbour IT and Converga).

An overnight shift for business leaders, managers and employees
The last few months have presented business leaders and HR teams with a rapid scale of change. One day, hundreds of thousands of staff were working in offices. The next they were at home. With the changes wrought by COVID-19 here to stay, business leaders are faced with the challenge of managing dispersed teams on an ongoing basis.

How do we make sure they feel supported remotely? How do we maintain our culture? How do we keep them engaged in the work we’re doing?

For HR teams and business leaders, now is the time to consider how your overall strategy empowers your people to do their best work.

Developing a short-term strategy to navigate the height of the pandemic is no longer enough, business leaders and HR teams need to work together on their long-term strategy.

Dispersed teams: We’ve done it before
The challenge of managing teams across multiple locations and infrastructures is familiar to us at Canon Business Services (CBS), with teams dispersed across Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines. In 2018, we brought together the Harbour IT and Converga teams and it was paramount to us that our team was comfortable with the transition, that they felt supported and they understood why we were doing this.

It’s not unlike the changes teams across the world are facing due to the pandemic. Maintaining employee engagement in this period requires a keen focus on your strategy. With any business move, your first step should always be to define why you are doing it – not just what the value is for your customers or clients, but the value for your employees.

It’s not just about what you say to your people, it’s what you do. For example, holding quarterly town hall sessions across all our locations to bring the teams together worked well for us. Ultimately, we worked on the belief of our people and that our vision was the right vision – not just for us but for our people too. Implement regular one-to-one video catchups and broader virtual team catch-ups. There’s so much technology available to keep your teams connected even when you can’t physically be together. And this is so important to maintaining your company culture during change and keeping your people connected.

With any business move, your first step should always be to define why you are doing it – not just what the value is for your customers or clients, but the value for your employees.

Strategy is everything
It’s important to remember that your strategy is just as much about engaging your team in your business goals as it is about driving company growth. For business leaders, it’s key to make sure we have a strong foundation that is defined and leveraged through our strategic framework.

For example, a key part of our vision at CBS is to be seen as a great place to work, with greater than 75 per cent employee engagement. Our most recent employee satisfaction survey had our employee engagement at 72 per cent, helping us to see that the things we’re doing are working for our people.  Building people-based vision measurements into your strategic framework is just as important as business measurements because your people are your strongest resource.

We built a purpose-driven culture into our strategy because we know that to achieve our vision, we need the team to connect and believe in our purpose. We also focus on setting them up for success, all the way from recruitment and onboarding to enabling their career and optimising their development. All of which is built into our strategy with specific initiatives in place.

It’s important to remember that your strategic framework isn’t just for business leaders – it’s also a tool for HR teams and people managers to use when supporting employees in both personal and professional development.

Building people-based vision measurements into your strategic framework is just as important as business measurements because your people are your strongest resource.

This is the new way of working, so how do we manage it?
While some lockdown restrictions are easing, remote working will continue to be the reality for many businesses. Leaders and HR teams will need to manage dispersed teams for the foreseeable future, because some organisations will likely reach a point where half the team is in the office and half at home.

Developing a short-term strategy to navigate the height of the pandemic is no longer enough, business leaders and HR teams need to work together on their long-term strategy. Change is inevitable, both in life and business, and having a clear strategic framework for your business in place – which is communicated and clear to your employees – is essential to maintaining employee engagement and enabling them to deliver to customers.

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