How we return our people to our offices and branches will be one of the most important employee engagement activities this year. Not only will our re-entry impact the bottom line, it will also impact our engagement survey scores, employees’ decisions to stay or look for other opportunities, and how they share their experience with members and prospective hires.
So, as leaders, are we ready to challenge our personal working preferences to ensure the best employee experience? Here are a few questions to consider:
- Have employees been successful at home, and can they continue to work from their home offices?
- Have managers set clear expectations and understand how employees are performing both in and out of the office?
- Can managers build connections with employees, manage performance, communicate messages and give recognition remotely?
- Are there differences in how teams or departments work that could allow for unique return-to-work plans?
- Can everyone participate in return to in-office decisions?
As leaders, we need to assess our current beliefs, understand the true state, and then take action. Time is passing quickly, so here are a few actions you can take:
Come from a place of empathy: Start by acknowledging that COVID-19 has been and is a shared experience for us all. Acknowledge that each employee is unique and psychological safety comfort levels will vary.
Engage employees in the solution: Invite employees into the return-to-work conversation. Create an exercise for departments to revisit team deliverables and goals, and reprioritize as needed. Then, talk to each of your employees to understand any unique working or scheduling needs. Be clear that this process will involve compromises, and the goal is to find the best solution for the employee and to ensure team deliverables can still be met.
Communicate the why: Make sure shared goals and values are not forgotten in this process. Remind employees of why their work matters. If having employees in an office/branch is needed, be clear about why, and make sure they know how you are keeping them safe. Communicate often and make sure there is a ‘source of truth’ where employees can get the information they need.
Create or revisit remote working resources: With a long-term mindset, look at your work from home policies and practices and re-evaluate how managers and employees will connect for 1:1s, dispersed team meetings, etc.
Don’t be afraid to do the right thing: In the absence of a playbook, put humanity first— listen and find solutions in partnership with employees. An A/B schedule can ensure you have a response if someone complains, but being inclusive will drive employee engagement.
Don’t let your personal preferences and beliefs interfere with one of the biggest employee-impacting decisions to date. When you engage employees in the process and solution, they’ll feel an increased commitment to the credit union, their team and your members. Now more than ever, we must live out our mission of “people helping people.”