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Motivating employees in the current economic climate

18 Sep 2020 | Lesson Desk Team3 min read

During the nation-wide lockdown, the majority of organisations have opted for the working-from-home (WFH) policy. A recent survey has shown that more than half of South Africans are still continuing to work remotely during the lockdown regulations. The majority of businesses have implemented the new WFH lifestyle during the lockdown period, and most of them are looking to keep this policy for future operations or at the very least, adopt a more flexible solution.

Now more than ever, keeping your workforce motivated and engaged are critical success factors in this change of the working environment. Whilst working remotely, keeping employees’ momentum going will help ensure they remain focused and motivated in their working role and towards the organisational goals and objectives.

Whilst WFH is considered a dream for most, being isolated and separated from other team members come with its own set of challenges that the organisation and HR professionals need to address both strategically and swiftly. This means keeping employees engaged during working hours, but without the usual office interaction as employees were once used to.

One approach to this challenge is career pathing. At some point, both the employer and employee would have had this highlighted during the many hours spent at home. During this crisis, one cannot help but reflect and wonder: “where to next?”.

For the employee, they may feel unsure of the future, particularly their career success in their current position.

For the employer, there is an immediate need to look at utilising employees more effectively, to avoid disengaged employees that could ultimately lead to lower productivity and performance of the business.

To address this, a combination of job profiling, performance discussions, as well as skills development may help re-inspire those that are underperforming, give a clear description of what is required and challenge them in a positive way. It will also allow for career progression for those who do improve their skills and show commitment to improvement, which in turns equates to improved productivity and efficiency for the company.

To address career-pathing within the organisation, skills development becomes key - but not just any skills development. Skills programmes need to align with company goals, culture, products and services to ensure a measurable and worthwhile return on investment.

However, usual run-of-the-mill training won’t necessarily skyrocket engagement. Training needs to be exciting and relatable to employees to keep them engaged in what is being learnt and inspired to bring new ideas or ways of working within their current role.

Online training is an effective way to deliver training initiatives remotely without the concern of COVID-19 infections during group activities. With the flexibility of online learning, the pressure is removed from productivity during work hours and day-to-day business activity as there is no longer a need for full-day training sessions. These can now be broken up into bite-sized training that does not compete with required daily activity within employees’ job roles.

Whether it’s due to additional operational pressures or revenue loss, for many businesses, keeping employee training active during the current economic downturn may seem like a trivial matter. However, it can be a powerful, yet not always obvious, tool in getting ahead of competitors during lockdown.

Without skills development, employees are prone to become disengaged and further creates a challenge for employees to grow within their working role.

To further support this, recent statistics have shown a 45% hike in demand for online courses.

This highlights a clear appetite for learning amongst individuals which companies can use to their benefit. A clear and active approach towards remote learning should be taken by HR and management to harness such benefits. It’s important to remember that employees are happier and motivated when they are given opportunities to further develop themselves.

Technology can also act as a crucial gateway to this experience. By laying the foundations for a sustainable learning programme through engaging, future-forward learning platforms, organisations are able to power their performance now, and well into the future. As businesses slowly start to build their new normal, a competitive advantage could be established and further a substantial return on investment.

Another solution to preventing disengagement is through the use of online surveys.

In aiming to keep employees motivated and engaged whilst not in the traditional office environment, can make it difficult to engage and navigate employees’ current feelings towards their role, the company and any fears that may come with this.

Surveys allow staff members to feel that their input is still heard and valued whilst allowing employers and HR professionals to get key insights and enable them to address any issues accordingly. These insights could give important cues as to what staff are feeling and better equip the company to address any concerns that may arise. It is also useful for identifying any patterns or trends among the workforce that can be addressed head-on.

A great way to distribute surveys can be via an online platform or software. Not only does this approach allow for faster distribution, but it also allows staff to answer more freely and openly when allowing anonymous submissions where they can voice their honest opinion without the fear of getting criticised or targeted by others who may disagree with them.

It is important to keep employees inspired and stimulated during these times by maintaining their positivity and inspiration within their role in the organisation. Building a foundation of continuous skills development, regardless of the challenges that arise, is flexible and innovative and is the key to a future-proof strategy in today’s new working world.