Like the gust of wind nobody saw coming, the Corononavirus pandemic hit us. We experienced what we never thought possible even in the wildest of our dreams. As wave after wave of Covid-19 infections rocked to the surface, television and mobiles blared with negative updates - enough to send most of us into a shell. And life changed.
The New [Ab]Normal?
Working from home, an option saved for emergency situations [or those occasional ‘I don’t want to get out of bed’ days] became the new normal. No more coffee breaks, water cooler conversations, sharing meals. No more team meets and definitely no swivel chairs to turn around on, for a quick chat with colleagues. This new normal, [or, abnormal] as we’d like to think of it forced everyone into an isolation - without a warning that too. Surely, even mental well-being experienced a jerk? Emotional meltdown, and a feeling of loneliness increased.
At a time like this, how can this be dealt with an organisational level?
Loneliness In The Time Of A Pandemic
The pandemic has drastically altered our social routine. With the situation making it difficult to maintain meaningful connections outside of the home, loneliness has crept in. At the same time, many of us struggle to open up about this, fearing what the world might think. While it is important that people express themselves freely, it is difficult. But at an organisational level, this is an attainable task with the help of something as basic as appreciation.
Appreciation as Workplace Culture
Balancing emotional well-being will get easier if organisations keep appreciation at the core of their workplace ideologies. Every positive word and action contributes towards boosting employee morale while also making space for if/any constructive criticism thereby amplifying performance and productivity. But the first step to this starts with educating leaders and the managerial team as they will be the driving force behind fostering their teams - especially at a time when people are feeling more disconnected from the world than ever before. Although, is this enough?
Employee Recognition For the Win
Employees who are called out for their work, recognised for their abilities and more so, rewarded for it, are happy employees. It builds confidence to take on bigger projects, and motivates them to keep going - leading to lower attrition rate for the organisation with an increase in employee engagement. In fact, a study by the Society of Human Resource Managers, found that employee recognition programs have been known to increase employee productivity by 63%. Let’s take a look at ‘Power of You’ - P&G’s employee recognition program for almost 10 years now. While the organisation had originally devised the program with an aim to increase meaningfulness and transparency, they decided to reframe it, realising the need for change. What changed was the provision for all employees to participate and contribute, unlike previously when only managers could. Something as basic as this coupled with an option for monetary as well as non monetary rewards, did three things for P&G:
Increased recognition across the organisation,
Built a culture of appreciation, and
Boosted the feeling of inclusion amongst employees.
The results showed a 300% increase in peer-to-peer recognition and also found that employees recognised through Power of You were one third less likely to leave the organisation. Employee recognition has always mattered and in these difficult times - even more so.
Little Things Make A Big Difference
While appreciation is an everyday norm, rewards and recognition programs are all about gratifying performance or simple milestones. Formal initiatives that publicly announce employee wins, team outings or even company-wide celebrations, work well. While there are many ways to do this, even the smallest things can have a large impact. How about sending a meal to employees’ homes, which could have been a lunch out if not for the lockdown? Value-based awards or programs like ‘Employee of the Month/Quarter’ don't just recognise a win with trophies or company newsletters, but also ensure company-wide participation. Many organisations have also resorted to thanking their employees with a surprise day off! While trophies, office merchandise or experiential gift vouchers need an organisation to allocate funds, things like hand written notes, or a social media shout-out cost nothing.
Making Work From Home, Work
Whether small or big, employees find inspiration to keep them going with an organisation’s Rewards and Recognition Program - even with employees confined to working from home. And if something as positive as this has the power to rid someone of the demotivation and loneliness that the pandemic has brought with it, then why not?