29 April, 2021

People Focused Leadership in Times of Crisis

The pandemic has resulted in a major upheaval within the world of work. With a fresh rise of cases and mortalities, it is a tumultuous time for us all, whether through exposure on the field or juggling priorities while working from home. The new normal has forced business leaders to step up their managerial skills as they navigate untested waters and struggle to keep morale and productivity up. As the crisis exacerbates, leaders assume an even more important role in ensuring employee motivation and engagement. According to McKinsey, people-oriented leadership qualities are shown to better pull organizations through the pandemic. One important way of doing this is by appreciating and motivating employees on a regular basis. This blog talks about the various ways in which leaders can create a culture of employee appreciation during this difficult phase:

  • Owning workplace culture: Top-down approach

Culture is always driven top-down so it’s important for leaders to consciously create a culture which encourages employees to stay loyal and come back to physical workplaces when the time comes. Regular company updates, announcements and video messages from senior management published via a company-wide collaboration tool, for example, can be effective in making employees feel connected and included.

  • Reinventing recognition: Frequent, peer-based, CSR

Recognition efforts, especially manager-to-peer recognition, should be ramped up to acknowledge the work that employees do on an everyday basis. Honoring one’s duties is no mean feat when anxiety and uncertainty are widespread and employees need an acknowledgement of the same. A digital employee recognition tool can be helpful in structuring recognition parameters as per organizational culture and reminding leaders to thank their teams regularly.

  • Promoting wellness: Virtual events, physical and mental health initiatives

A healthy workforce means a more productive one, which is why employee wellness needs to be an area of focus for all leaders. A great way to achieve this is through promoting events like health seminars, yoga and mindfulness sessions etc. throughout the year. These can be conducted virtually using an employee engagement platform. Organizations can also track mental and emotional health using employee sentiment analytics using the same platform. Additionally, a firm can incentivize employees to meet targets on the organization’s wellness app. For example- winning rewards points upon completing 10,000 steps consistently.

  • Manager-peer relations: Performance management system

Team coordination and alignment suffers in a remote working environment, which is why technology becomes indispensable in maintaining an effective feedback system. Maintaining a digital log of achievements, areas of improvement as well as accessing KPI analytics and peer comparison gives managers the insights they need to improve individual employee performance. According to Gallup, managers in particular, have the most important role in determining employee performance during the pandemic. The right data can inform a manager’s strategy and help in leveraging employee strengths more effectively.

Having a well-rounded rewards and engagement strategy is of paramount importance if leaders want to build a strong employer brand despite the crisis. The need of the hour is for them to leverage the right digital tools to engage a distributed workforce while crafting a new approach to building a people-first culture.