Can technology help you address the challenges of maintaining employee engagement and support wellbeing, with many employees now working remotely?
With the emergence of the Covid-19 crisis in the early months of 2020, more and more workforces are operating remotely. This has created a number of issues for many organisations. They have had to think about how they are going to communicate tasks with dispersed workers, provide them with access to key systems and how they can protect sensitive data.
With many of these issues taking a leading role, it can be easy to overlook the soft issues that managers and HR teams need to think about during these testing times. For many people the office environment is an outlet away from the home. The interaction with colleagues is a key part of their week and allows them to communicate between teams and contributes to overall levels of wellbeing.
Removing this level of interaction can lead to a number of challenges, including:
1.Reduced communication levels
When away from the office it is much more difficult for employees to communicate with each other. The sense of being a team can be strained by a lack of communication. Often it might not even be direct work-related communication that suffers, with a reduction in even simple exchanges between employees that usually help to create a positive workplace environment. Without people to speak to employees can feel isolated and as a result their wellbeing may suffer.
When office communication is cut off for people working at home, many quiet, off to the side conversations will never happen. Managers can’t observe their team to gauge the mood and work accordingly. People management becomes significantly harder away from the office. People who are comfortable communicating issues directly with their management team are still heard but others are liable to fall by the wayside. This can create inequality within the team and can lead to division within your workplace culture.
A lack of, or, an inequality in communication can then lead to employees becoming disengaged with their role in the team. Employees who don’t feel listened to can feel isolated and not part of a team working towards a goal. This not only reduces their ability to carry out their role but also has an adverse effect on their mental health and wellbeing. In many ways, disengagement is a symptom of other issues rather than a cause, but the effects are very difficult for organisations to overcome.
4. Lack of structure and loss of workplace culture
Another issue that can arise through difficulties in communication is a lack of structure. If employees are not communicated with effectively there is a chance their role within the wider organisation will become unclear. Communication is key to making sure that all employees are aware of how their week should be structured. Without structure, employees stop being a team and instead become disparate entities. This ultimately leads to a loss of workplace culture, which can also affect individual wellbeing.
Can technology help to promote workplace inclusivity and wellbeing?
These issues can not only reduce the productivity of an organisation, they can have a huge impact on the wellbeing of employees. However, the right technology platform can help HR managers and employers maintain a sense of community and workplace culture to improve employee wellbeing across the public sector. Having the following digital capabilities can have a positive impact on health and wellbeing with your workforce now working from home.
Instant Messaging (IM) and videoconferencing
Both instant messaging and videoconferencing are the obvious ways that organisation can crack the communication conundrum. We have already seen the rise in use with Cisco’s Webex, for example, having seen a 22% increase in use within China over the last few months during the peak of their outbreak. These tools enable employees to interact with each other in much the same way that they will have done when physically in the office, helping employees stay connected while working remotely.
Polls and Surveys
IM and videoconferencing are not, however, the full answer. Whilst they allow people to communicate, it can as previously mentioned create inequality among levels of workforce communication. This can be tackled by anonymous polls and surveys about issues relating to the company. This allows employees who might not be comfortable with communicating their thoughts on the issues to do so in a safe environment. Employee apps are a great way to conduct regular polls and surveys with your employees at once simultaneously. These platforms can also be used to monitor trends in employee feedback, enabling managers and the HR team to monitor the wellbeing of all their employees.
Wellbeing content and community news
Another way to maintain a sense of community and support remote workers across the public sector is by producing a hub of both wellbeing content and community news. This can be used to engage employees in organisational issues and helps them to feel a part of a wider workplace. This type of content can also be used to recognise employee achievements even when working at home in real time through an app newsfeed.
The office environment makes it easier to help any employees that are struggling with tasks that they have been set. When working from home, this becomes much more challenging. Setting up microlearning resources to keep people up to date with how to complete tasks and improve their overall skill levels is a great way to help people continue their workplace development. This helps to reduce stress for employees too as they can access resources that teaches them how to complete tasks or helps them to keep up to date with key organisational process. It can also serve as a basis for helping managers to explain tasks in a constructive way.
Placing trust in technology
The rapid rise in remote working has presented public sector organisations with significant challenges. But getting the right technology partner for your employee communication platform as well as valuable trusted source of content in place, can ensure your workers remain part of their wider teams. Providing access for everyone is key to ensuring all your employees gain equal support for their mental health and wellbeing.
Keeping your workforce together and supporting employee wellbeing is more important than ever, especially with everyone now working remotely. Engage4 provides a toolset to help improve your employee wellbeing and engagement via an easy to use mobile app. engage4 is a unique app that combines employee engagement capabilities with exclusive wellbeing content provided in partnership with Workwise Wellness Solutions. The wellbeing content includes tips on coping with stress in the workplace and improving overall wellbeing through a range of lifestyle choices.