The employee experience, once considered a “fluffy” concept, has gained added respect and focus since the onset of the global pandemic. Companies have been dramatically impacted by changing work models that have led to communication challenges, a growing demand for work/life flexibility and reluctance to return to the office, and two emerging trends that have been referred to as “the Great Resignation” and “Quiet Quitting.”
These shifts are causing perspectives of C-suite leaders to change — from CHROs to the CEO.
Lessons learned during the pandemic drive the need for change
As Kirsi Nuotto, SVP, human resources at VTT shared at Human Resource Executive’s HR Tech Conference: “The CHROs of the future need to have a strong people and business understanding, and they need to be great communicators and influencers since they will be sparring the workplaces of tomorrow and leading the future of work.”
The role of the CHRO — and others within the HR function — have certainly become elevated in the past two years. Companies of all types and sizes have recognized the critical role HR plays in ensuring employees are actively engaged and have the tools and resources they need to be productive — regardless of where they may be located.
Since the pandemic, helping employees has become more than just keeping workers safe. HR leadership — and C-suite leaders at large — recognize that they need to ensure that the overall employee experience is stronger and better than ever in order to keep their employees on board and productive.
The focus must be on the employee experience. Why? Because business is powered by people!
One positive outcome of the pandemic has been that leaders now recognize that they need to be employee-focused and that attention to recruitment and retention isn’t just a fad that will come and go.
The Inspirus perspective on employee engagement post-pandemic
Inspirus is a leader in employee engagement solutions and has been since before the pandemic. Our leaders have been gratified to see that their passion for engagement is now being exhibited more broadly and more strongly around the country — in fact around the world.
Two of Inspirus’ leaders recently shared their perspectives on how their roles have changed since the onset of the pandemic. Their experiences may resonate with others.
Tatiana Frierson, Chief Executive Officer
Tatiana’s perspective focuses on creating a connected culture and relationship building, noting that the onset of remote work has had an impact on every organization’s culture. The changes have been both dramatic and subtle.
No longer can we stand around the proverbial water cooler and dish. While it’s been nice to avoid long commutes and the time and cost involved, the downside has been the need to work harder to stay connected and to maintain a positive company culture.
She points to a study by RingCentral indicating that 71% of employees feel more belonging in workplaces that have a “connected culture” — a culture that makes them feel more connected to their colleagues than even before the pandemic.
Creating that culture can certainly be challenging in an environment where the “workplace” is not one geographical area. That means that leadership must work harder to maintain community and connections digitally.
That, of course, she points out, is exactly why Inspirus is in business! Connects provides employees — remote and on-site — with an easy way to connect with one another to create and maintain a sense of community and belonging.
Leaders lead the charge, of course. As Tatiana says: “I find myself taking a greater role in helping employees stay connected to the company and each other. A connected culture starts from the top.”
Terri Moore, Senior Vice President of People and Culture
This dramatic drive for a concerted focus on culture has created opportunities — and challenges — especially for organizational talent leaders. Terri points to both isolation and the need to do more with less as two impacts that she has noted over the past few years.
Working remotely, she says, has impacted everyone — from senior leaders to front-line staff. All are feeling the same sense of isolation. That isolation, she says, has had an impact on the sense of accountability for adhering to processes — especially those designed to help people stay connected and reduce the isolation of working remotely.
Thankfully, she says, tools like Connects allow for continued connections in any environment, allowing employees, managers, and leaders to share memorable moments and encourage each other from across the hallway or across the world.
It’s also been an environment where everyone has been required to do more with less, including senior leaders. Leaders have had to reorganize workforces and act as crisis managers in addition to their typical functions. This has certainly been true in the HR world.
HR leaders are navigating employee retention and attrition, cultural and moral issues, hiring and coordinating onboarding, and shifting to remote work — all in the ever-changing landscape of the “Great Resignation” and now, a looming economic downturn.
Through it all, Terri says, she’s aware of the need to take strategic action. “I don’t try to boil the ocean, but divide my list of strategic initiatives into realistic, manageable chunks, keeping an eye on the strategic vision that our leadership team mapped out.” And, she says, she’s also attuned to the need to collaborate with in-house resources cross-functionally to finish projects that help move the business forward. “It helps me and provides growth opportunities for our people.”
Yes, the pandemic experience has changed perspectives. Inspirus thinks that’s a good thing and is excited about the opportunity to help companies find ways to connect with employees — and to help employees connect with each other — wherever they may be located. Connections drive culture which, in a hybrid workplace, is more important than ever.