Employee Experience – An HR Opportunity & Not Just A Fancy

Employee experience, as we knew it a year and a half back, is not the same today. With a pandemic in our kitty now, the entire landscape of work has changed. This sudden transformation has changed employee expectations too. 2020 has been significantly crucial for the HRs because they were creating something unique for the very first time, a wholesome hybrid working experience.

Employee experience & its urgency

Employee experience is a journey that encompasses every aspect of your employees’ timespan in your company. It counts the various interactions made, the job roles and responsibilities played, the impact of the workspace on employee wellbeing, and every other organizational aspect that you can recall.

When the pandemic made it compulsory for the HRs to think about efficient innovations and better technologies for the companies, a new kind of leadership for the employees and, a completely different set of healthcare guidelines for employee safety and wellbeing, the urgency of achieving top-notch employee experience became all the more visible. In absence of apt technologies, the HRs could not provide the much-needed support to the hybrid workforces working overtime and facing burnouts. This dearth had certainly taken away from the employee experience of various organizations.

The significant benchmarks

Talking without any data or statistics makes no sense today. Analytics has become a practice today, and organizations all over are deep diving into analytics for digging data on benchmarks that matter. Before facing any problem head-on, you need to know its origin. If you have the answer to the ‘why’, you are almost there. As far as employee experience is concerned, one significant benchmark acknowledging the employee sentiment and analytics come in handy here.

Another significant benchmark is the business data. To gauge the overall organizational performance, you need to have a firm hold on the business data. Analysis of the same data will expose tons of issues in front of you, responsible for organizational inefficiency or low productivity. Those details will guide you in prioritizing problems and solving them in succession. The entire exercise will fetch your expertise and help in improving the employee experience. Unless you start at the root of the problem area, you will not reach the pinnacle of it.

The hybrid work innovations

COVID-19 pandemic has led to a quick paradigm shift in the working patterns and culture. Organizations all over the world were hell-bent on devising solutions to assist in building an excellent employee experience in today’s hybrid ecosphere too. The idea behind all of these efforts was to keep the workforce connected, irrespective of their locations.

Next is the employee experience toolset that has been a huge driving factor in this scenario. Professionals have designed all-inclusive portals besides chatbots via which employees accomplish every organizational operation in no time. Even with all the tools in possession, an organization cannot boast of radiating excellent employee experience if it lacks the right kind of leadership.

Future of employee experience

The main deal here is to achieve high employee productivity; without compromising on employee health and wellbeing, and the industry leaders are on it. They are making every possible effort to make the employee experience of their organizations impeccable. Employee experience in the age of hybrid working is not just a fancy; but a huge opportunity for the HRs to grow, be more functional, design-oriented, and analytical!

Courage is Destiny – Reimagining Leadership in the Hybrid Workspaces

Having all the necessary tools in possession yet not having the courage to use them is like not having them at all. Likewise, if you are a leader with all the skills and qualities to lead the new-age hybrid workforce effectively, but you are not courageous enough to implement them, then you’re not being true to yourself.

Leading with Courage

Leading an organization is no easy job and doing the same with utmost courage does not happen overnight.

You need to allow and persuade yourself to take some necessary risks that will push you forward. It works best if you build yourself a courage ladder, shrug off the fear of taking risks and start facing the risks courageously, one at a time.

You can start by taking small risks and gradually proceed to the bigger ones, continuously reskilling and upskilling yourself along your way. This way, by the time you reach a point where you need to make big organizational decisions or strategies amid high stress, you are perfectly ready for it.

So, you see, it is significant that you have an adequate understanding of the risks that you are willing to take, arrange them in an ascending hierarchy, and then start making your moves.

Climbing up the courage ladder is supposed to be a great learning experience too. With the less risky incidents, you get the chance to weigh your ideas, approaches, and check which of them work and avoid the ones that don’t. Again, as you climb up carrying all your successes and failures, you learn to enhance your flexibility and manage your team better.

Being Proactive

Again, as a courageous leader, you must be proactive. You must work towards enhancing your own proficiency, sensitivity, knowledge, and equity, and most importantly, ensure that your workforce has faith in your direction.

You need to align your actions properly for your people to understand that your intent is sincere. “Practice what you preach” is an old saying, but still holds true. This way, you will not only be a courageous leader but an inspirational one too.

Trust the Timing

If you can pick your battles wisely and focus on the timing, you are already a step ahead of being a courageous leader. Remember, not every fight is your fight. A leader needs to understand personal as well as organizational objectives well enough and negotiate accordingly or set up a new strategy.

Competent leaders do not make impulsive moves in the name of displaying courage. They pay attention to the timing, think the situation through, and finally, act. You must wait for the right time to set off because that is what successful practitioners do. Being courageous is all about right timing, every other time you’re merely irrationally aggressive.

Therefore, in order to be true to your skills and thrive as a courageous leader you should weigh your options before fighting every battle so that you can be the enabler of your success and that of your team, not an unwanted organizational naysayer!

Happy working!

‘Work-Life Negotiation’ – What is the buzz all about?

We have talked a lot about work-life balance and its significance, more since the COVID-19 pandemic had hit us. But how many times could we achieve that balance and not merely stress ourselves over how to reach there?

The concept was pertinent to a pre-pandemic world where we were supposed to work during the day and were free for personal engagements after that. But with Work From Anywhere becoming the new norm, the lines got blurred.

The new-normal digital workspace has become a little more favorable for the employers than the employees. They expect the employees to take care of work, at any given time now. It has led to exhaustion, which in turn has given birth to burnout. Recent reports suggest that burnout is on a scary upsurge since the middle of last year.

Even though organizations are trying to achieve that perfect and unreal work-life balance, it’s not working. It’s about time we think of a more practical and considerate approach that will make sense today and even tomorrow.

When it comes to balancing two priorities, stress and apprehension are evident because personal and professional lives have forever been at odds with each other. Work-life is either perfectly balanced or no; there is no grey zone. Hence, organizations need to disrupt this concept and replace it with ‘Work-Life Negotiation’.

The only way we can deal with two clashing priorities is by negotiating. Work-life negotiation eliminates the constant need to balance. One day work is a priority, and on some other day, the personal life beyond work is.

Nowadays work seems to demand our me-times, and even the balance seems to get disturbed. In critical times like this, negotiation ensures that you will have a personal life, either tomorrow or the day after, if you chose the work-life today.

Industry leaders need to disrupt the concept of work-life balance so that negotiation can step in. There will be obstacles in the way but overcoming them will lead us to a whole new professional world of immense possibilities.

Employers should further focus on the output instead of the hours the remote employees put in. If the employees fail in backing the organizational goals, leaders should step in, take charge, not only as mere professionals but also as human beings, and help the employees get back on track. And for the office goers, employers should consider leveraging technology at its best so that the employees are not unnecessarily burdened.

The pandemic has given us a golden opportunity to create a new history. Let us not waste such a chance, bid adieu to the old-normal work-life balance, and empower ourselves to negotiate. Doing so will lead us to the most constructive professional (and personal, to some extent) experience ever.

Happy working!

From Workplace to Workspace – Working-from-Anywhere and Remote Collaboration

The concept of work from anywhere or WFA has been fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously organizations used to be sceptical about allowing their employees to work from home but a year into pandemic and lockdown have turned the tables.

Today organizations are planning to roll out a permanent hybrid work structure shortly. The WFA concept has placed the word ‘workspace’ in our minds. Tomorrow, your workspace can be your office or your drawing room or a coffee shop or a park, or any other place. It will free employees from the routine of sticking to one place when it comes to working.

With organizations going completely global in their hiring attempts and leaving no stone unturned for providing their distributed workforces with every required resource, WFA is bound to be a prime way of working going forward. One vital facet associated with WFA, collaboration is the topic of discussion today.

It is no secret that WFA collaboration is way tougher than our regular in-office collaboration. But, it is meaningful and fruit-bearing. All you need to do is follow certain principles that have been proved to yield augmented productivity and employee satisfaction as well as reduced costs.

Employees need to be the prime focus of WFA collaboration

Technology is undoubtedly a matter of high significance here but WFA collaboration should first be about the people. If the employees do not know how to work in sync or how to collaborate, there is no point in overwhelming them with a plethora of tools and software.

The first step is to make the employees aware of all the rules and regulations of the WFA environment, and also highlight what all is expected from them. You need to have proper WFA policies in place and employees practicing them. And as leaders, you need to commit yourselves to the WFA environment and thereby set the standard for your organizations.

Participation of teams should be mandatory in WFA decision-making

WFA or hybrid teams succeed only when each member is invested in it. Whether it is a decision-making session regarding the implementation of a new tool or the rolling-out of a particular strategy, various teams should be involved in the cause. When you fill the decisions with multidisciplinary perspectives, you fare better in meeting the needs of every team and in turn, the project.

Movement fluidity needs to be encouraged and tracked

As the name suggests, the WFA model is essentially fluid in nature. The fact that people can move to various places while working needs to be handled well, and organizations must be ready to adjust accordingly. There will be days when only 20-30% of the employees turn up, and similarly, there will be days when 90% turn up.

Organizations will have to be up and functioning effectively for both scenarios. You will need an effective tracking system for better resource allocation in a WFA model. In such cases, countless possibilities might turn up; all you need to do is rework and revamp your WFA strategy constantly.

Define the workspace digitally

A WFA workspace is all about being digitally enabled. A digital workspace where every employee, irrespective of their physical location can come together, collaborate, and work. Hence, every facet of a WFA workspace needs to be digitally defined and tech-enabled. A WFA environment demands a digital-first mindset. Starting from tools and technologies,

even the attitudes and approaches need to adopt the digital wave. The digital workspace should be the new HQ for uninterrupted collaboration and smooth functioning.

Even though the WFA concept is new but its challenges should not intimidate us. The concept is here to boost employee satisfaction, increase productivity, and attract as well as retain talent.

3 Essential Leadership Lessons We Learnt during the Pandemic

With a constant spotlight on industry leaders, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the role of leadership in dealing with a crisis. How an ideal leader should look like in the new normal or the next normal had been a collective question. With the first and second waves of COVID-19 bringing about the biggest crisis starting in 2020 and continuing till today, it has become imperative to churn out some major leadership lessons from the age of pandemic.

Even though nobody could define what lies on the other side of this pandemic, one thing that has come out very distinctively is that not every business organization has performed equally in battling COVID-19. Some have fared better than others, and how did they do so should serve as a lesson(s) to direct leadership from now onwards.

I. Female leadership is comparatively more successful in responding to a crisis

The pandemic has particularly highlighted the need to shift from traditional leadership to female leadership. Researches have shown that feminine power functions better in showing empathy, connecting with people, building an environment of trust, and mainly responding more effectively to a crisis. Even though some traits of feminine power have been active in the business for some time now, the COVID-19 pandemic has only emphasized the need to change positions.

II. Bad communication & lack of responsibility jeopardizes leadership efforts in trying times

A crisis demands an honest and transparent flow of communication. Organizations that practiced an unambiguous communication network could function better when the nations went under lockdown for the first time. In absence of a clear communication channel, the management had to face rising employee mistrust. It had jeopardized the ability of many organizations to function. When dived deep, this failing leadership was linked with bad communication and lack of responsibility. Leaders, who have succeeded in creating a transparent and honest environment, have also succeeded in tackling the crisis better.

III. Dealing with risks becomes easy when efficient collaboration is in place

Not every nation is fighting the pandemic with the same capacity. Similarly, every organization is not equally capable or equipped to manage a remote or hybrid and decentralized workforce of the new normal too. The risk that was imposed on us by the pandemic could not be mitigated alone, and efficient collaboration had to step in here. Organizations need to work with an inclusive perspective so that the entire chain can be made stronger.

Taking the pandemic leadership as a benchmark for tackling the crisis and maintaining business continuity, one can easily chalk out the traits that need to be fostered among the leaders to come. It took the world one pandemic to teach that empathy, responsibility, communication, and collaboration are the keys to effective leadership!

Why Should the Hotel Industry Opt for No-Touch Visitor Management Right Away?

With the second wave of COVID-19 affecting the nation to such an extent, opting for no-touch technologies at the work front is the only viable way of continuing work, irrespective of industry.

In this present scenario, every organization should have a no-touch visitor management system at the entrance to keep their lobbies safe from any kind of virus transmission.

Amongst all the others, one industry that witnesses numerous visitors almost daily is the hotel industry. For this industry, both no-touch technologies and no-contact interactions have emerged as urgent needs in these uncertain times. Hoteliers need to promise a safe and secure visit and stay to their visitors and also keep themselves safe. Doing so will most definitely ensure an enhanced visitor experience as well as improved staff performances.

Touchless Visitor Management System for the Hotel Industry

In a hotel, a touchless Visitor Management System (VMS) will help in several spheres. Starting from welcoming the guests to accommodating them and even serving them would be made easy with a no-touch VMS. This way, the hotels will also be better equipped to check in the guests, identify the frequent visitors among them, and most importantly, serve them with increased efficiency.

Vital features of Touchless VMS for the New Normal

Intercom

With an intercom, the hotel would verify a visitor remotely and authorize them to enter the property. A VMS and an intercom (two-way) can be interlinked to exhibit remote functions, quick turnaround time, enhanced guest experience, and cost optimization.

Pre-Registration

Any efficient VMS must have the pre-registration feature. It will help the hotels in ensuring easy booking and checking-in even during the rush seasons or hours. It not only cuts down the time consumption but also provides decision-making insights. Some health check features can also be integrated with the VMS to ensure both visitor and staff safety.

User-friendly

Any tool or technology is good only when it is user-friendly. Both the guests as well as the backend staff should be able to use the VMS easily. The tasks performed via VMS must run through an intuitive and user-friendly dashboard.

No-Touch

In the post-COVID new-normal world, touchless or no-touch tools and technologies have become all the more necessary. Only the said technology can restrict the zoonotic virus from transmitting. Again, the touchless VMS should be cloud-based so that people can access it from any location and any device. The no-touch VMS of the new normal should also be compatible with the mobile devices as the guests should be able to use their phones to open the door.

Improvement of the Hotel Industry

An efficient VMS will help in eliminating any sort of physical contact between the hotel staff and the guests. This way a hotel will be able to ensure total safety and security to both the visitors as well as the hotel data.

In an industry like this one, a warm and pleasant reception is vital. Failure to do so will have your guests abandon your hotel forever. Using a smart no-touch VMS is bound to enhance the user experience by many folds. A VMS wipes off the reception queues completely by its pre-register or pre-booking functions. Besides, it can also help the hoteliers in delivering personalized services.

Again, having a single dashboard for operating the entire hotel will do wonders for the hoteliers. A VMS will record every minute demographic detail of the visitors and the smart dashboard will provide complete visibility into the same. The user-friendliness of a VMS will make it all the more wanted in the hotel industry.

Takeaways

Dump your old conservative ways of guest reception. The second wave of COVID-19 has pushed the hotel industry immensely to integrate touchless technologies into their operations. Starting with the registrations to bookings to check-ins and outs to everything else, hoteliers can do everything via the no-touch solutions. A no-touch VMS is all set to bring about a revolution in the hotel industry!

Sketching a Plan for Sustainable Hybrid Working

What was characterized as ‘glacial’ for the past 10-15 years had transformed into ‘tidal’ almost overnight. Yes, earlier flexible or hybrid working was considered unsuitable. But in this new normal, organizations have finally identified and reaped the benefits of hybrid working.

With over 70% of employees rooting for hybrid working, we are surely moving towards the Next Great Disruption, a hybrid workplace. Such a massive transformation comes along with substantial organizational changes too, both cultural as well as practical. All we need to do is sketch a plan for ensuring a sustainable future of hybrid working.

Organizations need to take up some hands-on measures.

With the second wave of COVID sweeping in, this transition from working from home to hybrid working has become all the more evident. Organizations need to consider both short as well as long-term practices as per the government rules. Amongst all the safety measures, the most important one presently is to determine the occupancy levels. You cannot call every employee to the office at the same time. So, you must prioritize the roles that are necessary for the return. Similarly, focus on providing every tool and technology required by your workforce to keep the business up and running. Moreover, simplify the home and office connectivity.

Anxious about heading back to office? Address that.

Going through a pandemic is grave, and at times like this, anxiety engulfs us. As long as hybrid working is concerned, it demands some employees to work from the office, and the return to office after working from home for such a long time seems scary today. The organizations will have to deal with employee anxieties. Do not disappear on your employees, instead arrange for regular one-on-one video calls and find out whether any red flags are present or not. Taking care of employee engagement and wellbeing should be on the priority list today. Secret tip – lend a helping hand to the ones in need, even in this hybrid working set-up.

Focus on performance management via the best fit application

A hybrid workforce is comparatively tougher to monitor. So, if your existing performance management systems are unable to provide you with the best visibility, consider replacing them. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and hence an application capable of providing complete visibility of employee active screen time across locations is the need of the hour. Such an application is NexAEI Hourly. It not only provides visibility but also assists in deriving actionable reports from the same. Such a solution might be highly beneficial for you to gauge and manage your employees’ performances in a hybrid working scenario.

To conclude, this plan will be your guide in the successful implementation of a prolonged hybrid working. Stick to it for building champion hybrid teams and swim effortlessly through this new normal transition because the hybrid teams are here to stay.

The Second Wave of COVID-19 and Your Workplace Reopening Plan

The resurgence of COVID-19 has adjourned the reopening plans of corporate India. The hybrid working model is here to stay for what seems to be a long time to keep the risk in check. The second wave of COVID-19 will put up several challenges. Organizations will have to dodge them by allowing employees to work flexibly from convenient locations and fill them with the required latest technologies at the same time.

In India, 87% of the businesses are considering continuation with the Flexi-remote working model. Even if the employees are to work from the offices, the management will adopt a phased approach. Not every employee will return to work at the same time. Employees will have to work from home and office on alternate days. Organizations will operate with a shrunken workforce for some time now. It will create an exceptional home-office framework and offer flexibility and work-life balance to every working professional.

Researches reveal that since the onset of COVID-19, remote job searches have swelled up to 261%. Even the postings for remote jobs have also increased by over three times. So, it is quite evident that both the employers and the employees have succeeded in hitting a good balance in the new-normal work set-up. And although people wish to return to their offices, they are ready to wait for a full-fledged reopening.

So, as far as working a little longer in this Flexi framework is concerned, even though it was a sudden phenomenon back in 2020, in 2021, companies are better prepared. Today they have guidelines, protocols, and SOPs in place to respond to the second COVID wave. Companies have already adopted several strategies that have redefined their work culture amid this pandemic. It’s just that they will have to hold on to that culture a little longer.

Organizations are considering employee safety as their topmost priority today, and no one is ready to take any risk on that front. So, they monitor every aspect of the present situation, starting from the frequent changes in health and safety guidelines to the vaccination drives. Companies are more than ready to bestow their employees with the latest technologies and best collaboration tools for uninterrupted functioning. Furthermore, people have realized and gradually accepted that the office will no longer be the same as we had left it last year.

People have gotten somewhat accustomed to the digital workspace and smart working infrastructure.

So with the reopening plans stalled temporarily, organizations are focused on strengthening the Flexi remote or hybrid working models, optimizing organizational costs, enhancing employee health facilities, and ensuring business continuity amid all odds.

HOW CAN LEADERS KEEP THEIR WORKFORCE ENGAGED DURING THE SECOND WAVE OF COVID-19?

Unique to every organization, the right leadership inspires people and guides them rightly in every situation. We had witnessed many such commendable examples of leadership in the last year during the pandemic when workplaces had to go completely remote. After a year of working from home, just when the organizations had started to re-open, a second wave of the coronavirus appeared, forcing the organizations to go remote again.

Even though the pandemic had given the employees a chance to work from the luxury and convenience of their homes, it had destroyed their work-life balance. As a result, burnouts had become quite common. A study reveals that a whopping 73% of working professionals are already burned out. And if not led properly, the forthcoming surveys are going to present even scarier figures. At this point, the right leadership needs to step in; to keep the employees engaged, to help them recover from burnouts, and regain the lost balance.

Speaking of employee engagement, here’s what leaders might consider doing during this second wave –

Co-create virtual experiences for spiking up interest

Be it hosting an open mic session or a scavenger hunt or Friday night watch parties or even a yoga session, the leaders need to look for various ways to keep employees engaged. This whole ‘co-creating a virtual culture’ with the employees is known to spike up their interest in showing up. The attempts to mimic the activities of other companies will fail. All you need to do is co-create experiences with your employees in their unique ways. Remember, the idea is to keep them engaged and churn out some positive responses from these activities.

Promote affinity and create a safe space for speaking up

Who doesn’t want to feel included? Craving connections and building relationships are what make us humans. So, when you promote affinity, you create a culture of inclusiveness. Your remote workplace consists of people from various cultures, mindsets, and interests. The key is to recognize all of them as your own, build connections with them, and hear what they have to say. Your employees need to feel safe and reveal their true selves in the space that

you create for them. These tough times demand you to be a little easy with your employees, offer a helping hand at times, and be approachable. The right leadership calls for kindness.

Acknowledge and appreciate the efforts

One should always appreciate genuine efforts. None of us had signed up for full-time remote work, and so we did not know of the baggage that would come with it. When every employee is striving to keep the business uninterrupted, you must acknowledge their efforts. Showing small gestures of appreciation goes a long way and is proved to generate a huge engagement.

Your workforce is your biggest asset. It is the time when you need to show that you care. Your care will be the biggest driver of employee engagement at critical times like this. Remember that the right leadership now will make your employees go far and beyond for you tomorrow.

4 Steps To Boost HR Functions in an SME

Qualified HRs for any Small and Medium-sized enterprises) needs to be in perfect sync with the organizational objectives, operate accordingly, and contribute considerably to the organizational success!

Unlike larger organizations, SMEs do not have huge budgets or innumerable resources. All they need to do is strive continuously to master the art of people trades and get right at it.

We offer you 4 key steps that would help to direct SMEs towards improving their HR functions –

1. Build an effective strategy first

Firstly you need to have a clear idea about the expectations pertaining to the HR function. The expectation is different for different organizations as the HRD functions in coordination with the organizational aims and objectives. Expectations vary from successful recruitments to workforce upskilling to people management to performance management and so on. So, it is important to strategize first and then go for action.

2. Observe the employment lifecycle step by step

Whether an employee is performing in tandem with the organizational departmental objectives or not, needs to be identified by assessing the employee lifecycle. Not that the HR will bear every responsibility but, with a systematic observation of every step of the employment lifecycle, HR will be able to identify the areas that seek upgrading.

3. Monitor data for identifying trends and loopholes

For every organization to recognize its loopholes, assess its effectiveness and spot trends, monitoring people data is essential. It helps in assessing the effectiveness of the HR function too. The HRs need to utilize that data to back decision-making and ensure that the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are in place.

4. Be a good listener to your employees

Taking regular feedback from the employees, conducting engagement surveys, arranging one-on-one meetings, putting up a suggestion box, and so on will help you interact with your employees to listen to them. Doing so will help you identify their problem areas and subsequently chalk out improvement plans for them. Listening to the employee voice will strengthen the HR functions and facilitate growth.

Every organization needs its unique HR and unique strategies that fit its requirements perfectly. Every step taken as an HR for your company should be data-backed and evidence-based, and most importantly, it should reflect your business and employee needs. Note that the growing phase is crucial for SMEs, and with time you will see your employees evolving along with the organization. Being agile, approachable, and intuitive will help your organization improve the HR functions, and you stand out from the crowd.