This is a contributed article by Foo Mao Gen. He currently heads Qualtrics in Southeast Asia, an experience management software company. Any extracts must be attributed to the author. 15 September 2020.
After months of intense change, HR leaders across Singapore are increasingly asking what comes next as we adapt to our new reality.
For most businesses, capabilities and support like working from home, flexible hours, and an increased focus on hygiene are now considered table-stakes. But as restrictions lift there is much change ahead.
The measures introduced now might not have the same positive effect in the future. Instead, they could be replaced by other priorities and concerns, which reflect the issues faced at the time.
All this means that if we simply focus on adapting to the new normal as it is today, we are missing a critical opportunity to build the new better.
The shift to remote working is a perfect example of always needing to move forward.
Many businesses offered remote working long before the pandemic. Yet in recent months, businesses have continually refined and expanded on their offer to work remotely to help employees at this time.
For instance, organisations quickly introduced employee assistance programs and wellbeing initiatives to support mental health in the workplace.
Research from Qualtrics shows businesses in Singapore are moving in the right direction to making the new normal the new better, with 57 per cent of respondents rating their employer’s response to the pandemic as above average.
Some of the actions driving the positive feedback were more workplace flexibility (51 per cent), gratitude from direct managers (21 per cent), and improved benefits (21 per cent).
One of the reasons for this shift is that during the pandemic leaders have listened and communicated more frequently, with their actions demonstrating a high degree of care and consideration.
Listening to Employees
As we move forward through and beyond the pandemic, businesses must continue to show the level of visibility and transparency displayed in the initial stages.
In fact, more than three-quarters of Singaporean workers think their employers must listen to feedback during the crisis.
Deloitte’ Global Human Capital Leader Erica Volini echoed these sentiments.
She said: “Listening is incredibly important. Especially in a world of remote work. If you do not have the ability to listen, you cannot be a leader.”
The same Qualtrics study provides insight into the changes employees want to see in the future to support businesses on their journey forward.
Unsurprisingly alongside safety and hygiene, people want their employers to continue offering the same level of flexibility and convenience afforded during the pandemic.
Taking action on these issues will help businesses create positive employee experiences, helping business drive improved outcomes and better attract and retain talent.
In just a handful of months, we’ve seen how changing the way you listen to and engage employees can have a positive impact on this business.
Organisations that make these changes permanent will have distinct advantages in the future as they have a clear insight into the actions they need to take to help employees.
Longer-term, employees will expect their employer to continue demonstrating some of the behaviours shown throughout the pandemic – Undoubtedly listening and acting will be one of them.
It’s now critical that businesses have real-time insights into the things that matter most, and the skills and leadership to act on them effectively.