12th June 2020
Whatever your personal preference – one of the legacies of lockdown will undoubtedly be the re-evaluation of the way we work, at both an individual and corporate level. Driven by both employee demand and with one eye on reducing the cost of expensive City based offices, many of our Insurance clients are planning future operating models that incorporate homeworking. Last week, the Insurance Insider reported that the Direct Insurance Group had formally committed to a permanent remote-working policy for all staff after the Covid-19 lockdown.
As well as creating opportunities, new ways of working have also created new challenges. During a period of heightened anxiety, we are all conscious of the downsides of homeworking too, it can lead to a sense of isolation or stress caused from enduring chaotic environments not suitable for work. As leaders we are well aware of the negative Impact our teams’ mental health can have on customer engagement, productivity and employee retention.
We can learn a great deal about how to accommodate these challenges from exploring examples such as WordPress whose entire workforce of 12,000 employees have been home based since the firm’s creation. For those with the time, I recommend listening to this hugely insightful interview with their founder Matt Mullenweg discussing their operating model and the future of work.
Due to COVID, 95% of my 3,700 colleagues at Davies are working from home right now. In a collective response to this situation, we’ve invested a significant effort into identifying the best ways of keeping our employees engaged to counter these challenges. We’ve put 100s of our leaders through workshops focused on remote leadership and have used our Voice of the Employee tool to capture the thoughts of our wider workforce. From this work, we have identified the following three strategies for enhancing the engagement of remote workers;
One of the biggest impacts we’ve seen from the Coronavirus has been the isolating feeling caused by being disconnected from your physical team. This can affect not only morale and happiness, but also impact individual productivity and group project timelines. The employee feedback we have received strongly points to remote working requiring enhanced levels of regular, relevant contact. It is essential to make use of the video and chat technologies that are available and that leaders ensure that everybody is using these tools effectively.
Setting up regular team meetings to discuss projects will keep teams feeling connected and able to coordinate workloads and tasks. To recreate the social factor of working as a team, try to create a comfortable and welcoming ‘social space’ at the beginning of any team video conference or call.
Just 10-15 minutes at the beginning of a call or video chat to share a joke, catch up with each other and let off some steam over tricky customers or tasks will help ease tensions and lift spirits allowing people to focus on team objectives and tasks.
On an individual level, having regular one-on-one meetings between employees and line managers can help increase employee happiness as it allows for easy discussion of workloads or stressful factors, and lets your employees know that their wellbeing is important. One extra piece of feedback from our employees was the increased importance on their line manager being punctual for these sessions when working remotely!
During the uncertainty of the Coronavirus situation it might seem hard to think about planning for the future, however it is extremely important for the wellbeing and happiness of your staff! Making it clear that personal development is still a priority for the company will reassure your staff that:
The first step is to review their personal and career objectives and to then discuss with them the means to develop from there – taking into account their goals and how they can progress. This doesn’t have to incur large costs, there are many repositories of online learning that are very cost effective such as on LinkedIn. Beyond this, lockdown has seen many consultancies, technology firms and industry bodies developing a broad range of webinars providing some excellent content that is absolutely FREE! Encourage your team to commit a set amount of time each week to spending time on webinars and sharing their learnings with their colleagues. Another great tactic that also enhances team engagement is to use 20 minute knowledge shares via video where the whole team can disseminate and discuss a specific element of their work.
Embracing digital technologies further, there are a range of tools available for tracking and monitoring employee happiness and engagement. Davies’ Technology team has developed a simple app called CheckIn, an intuitive and simple tool that provides visibility of employee happiness and allows management and leadership to track this in real and to identify and address problems as soon as they arise.
Through a simple interface, CheckIn prompt employees to choose which emoji best reflects their current happiness level each day. This provides a mechanism for alerting management or HR if there are any issues for concern. Unlike traditional pulse surveys, CheckIn is a continuous tool that allows every employee to CheckIn at any time. Based on the feedback on people’s wellbeing through the app, leaders can adjust their working methods and ease the pressure on their staff.
As with any tool, this is only as effective as the people using it however, our own experience has been enormously positive. I have been impressed with how open people are about their happiness, furthermore it has proven a great way of identifying other issues e.g. the sad face accompanied by “I can’t get my email to work” provides an opportunity to pick up a broader range of issues too.
As an industry, insurance companies invest enormously in analysing large amounts of complaints and feedback from customers to improve their satisfaction with the service, so it makes sense that it would also work to boost their staff’s happiness with the company experience too!
‘Employee happiness’ is a key part of the ‘new normal’
I passionately believe that finding ways to help keep your staff happy and motivated will help in the short and long term as profitability and growth are based on good collaboration, problem solving and time management – all skills that are easier to complete when employees are happy and committed to their roles and the organisation.
If you are interested in integrating CheckIn with your existing employee wellbeing programmes, or are looking for further tips, my team at Davies Resourcing Solutions would be happy to help find a solution that’s tailor-made for your unique requirements and needs.
To find out more call us on 0203 668 2890
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