The COVID-19 pandemic has caused several changes in the workplace and future work behavior. With several countries going into lockdowns, every sector was required to realign their working strategies and improvise processes. While some companies are reopening offices, the pandemic has defined a very clear future: where ‘workspaces’ are not necessarily defined by office spaces.
Recent studies have indicated that working from home triggered stress spikes and anxiety among many employees due to change in work patterns, dealing with contemporary technologies, and longer working hours.
Employee well-being became one of the prime focuses of every organization. Employee empowerment/workplace hence became a significant need of the hour.
Currently, the focus is on creating a hybrid work model wherein a set of people physically interact with each other, but the entire company is connected virtually. The segmentation is entirely based on the structure designed by the organization.
The hybrid work model was a win-win situation for both employees and organizations. This model has occupied an important role in creating an empowered workplace. It triggers a sense of safety among employees which has a positive impact on employee mindset ensuring employee security and productivity. Additionally, this work model gives employees flexible working hours and environment. The hybrid model also offers a significant benefit of work-life balance. The model cuts down on employee travel time, thereby reducing stress on the employee resulting in content and more productive employees.
During the lockdown, several companies initiated virtual team building and trust-building exercises online, to serve the need of the hour. However, a year later, there is certain fatigue and disconnect with these virtual interactions.
If we are to be truly successful in the hybrid or entirely virtual model, HR processes and engagements also need to adapt to the new normal. Performance measurement, team interactions and employee well-being take the forefront, instead of mere productivity and output.
The process of empowered workplace creation can be addressed at the three levels: organization, managers and employees.
What organizations should do?
An organization should focus on creating an inclusive workplace where leaders delegate their power and authority to their teammates. Additionally, a value-based work culture should be designed which will empower employees to collaborate, respect and be true to their work and co-workers.
Empowering the workplace is not just about employees but also about the benefit that it brings to the organization itself.
What managers should do?
It is common knowledge that communication is key, the same holds true in the case of employee empowerment. Clear communication and regular interactions play a crucial role in building manager-employee relations. To manage performance it is important to set up a feedback mechanism. Managers need to set broad strategic and operational priorities towards which the team needs to operate. Along with this, clear goals and guidelines need to be presented in order to improve employee confidence. Furthermore, managers need to be supportive of their employees and be open to new ideas on task implementation. All of this is possible with a bridge of trust between managers and employees. Creating online and offline spaces for trust-building activities and conversations will channel the required trust and accountability between them. In addition to this, offering team or individual-level coaching is important in order for employees to identify roadblocks, find solutions and take action.
Managers also need to encourage employees to develop themselves and take on higher responsibilities and take on cross-department projects or job movements.
What should employees do?
For an empowered workplace employee participation is also equally important. Employees need to empower themselves by taking the initiative to start new projects. They should take end to end responsibilities to resolve the issues and should keep a positive attitude as it creates a positive environment and increases the productivity level.
Benefits of having empowered employees
An empowered workforce has the potential to drive organizational growth and exceed determined expectations and results. In today’s fast-paced business landscape with an increased reliance on knowledgeable workers, effective empowerment has become an organizational imperative.
With the economy now opening up, there will be tremendous opportunities both from a business and employee perspective. By providing an empowered culture, managers and employees can create the innovation required to make the best use of it.