I read a funny meme the other day. It said “Happy Thanksgiving! Only 6 more months of 2020 left!” I laughed for many reasons mainly because of the obvious humor, but also because I am just a little bit afraid that it will seem more like 6 months rather than 5 weeks. In 2020 we learned what can go wrong will go wrong. Glad at least someone called Murphy of Murphy’s Law an optimist.
But I look forward to 2021 because of some really great ideas that came out of the new universe and there are many ways to synthesize them going forward. Everyone of the HR leaders I speak with for KangoGift, has a story of some events that really clicked with their teams and some that were just duds.
Through it all there are some great lessons for your teams to adopt when looking into the next year. There are some great takeaways I can share from hearing about so many unique programs. They are:
- There were tons of ideas that organizations tried. Identify and scale the ones that worked
- The employee experience is going offline in some ways
- Get back to the authentic experience
Let me go into these topics in a little more depth.
There were tons of ideas that organizations tried, found out what worked and should consider scaling in 2021-- Because I work with the entire universe of HR leaders, industry, big companies/small companies old and new I heard about a lot of ideas some were good, some were bad. I heard about one company that tried a zoom cooking class which, in hindsight, was not the best idea. But for one bad idea I heard of dozens of really great ones.
I heard about things that were silly fun, outreach programs to employees who are feeling the COVID isolation to the acts of kindness that rewarded employees for doing the things for the organization that are no longer as easy and common. Looking into 2021 find out what worked for your organization while also looking for other ideas from your teammates as well as from other organizations. Be fun, be creative, be informative, be thoughtful and you’ll be happy with the results.
The employee experience is going offline in some ways--Those silos we’ve all lamented about and the metaphorical walls we’ve wanted to break down are now literal ones. You need to take responses to employee wellbeing as one of the key elements of your job. These little things you would try to find time for are those things that now dominate your to do list.
Now you need to do as much as you can to encourage your employees. We all know how much the lockdown is impacting households with children. Even in a person with none of those issues, the fact that we can’t really go to movies or go out to dinner or even meet with friends for coffee is causing great deals of stress. The fact that there aren't any real signs of returning to normal makes the stress even greater.
Take it to the next level, find a reason to pick up the phone and call the person. Give them a few moments of one-on-one time. Use those Zoom times, or during the personal call, to ask the employees what they enjoy doing in their personal time. Talk about hobbies , fun things to do or great movies. Make sure that you encourage your teams to bring their best selves to work.
Get back to the authentic experience--It’s a pretty basic concept but make sure you recognize your employees and engage them. Make sure you do it on a basis far greater than what you used to do it. Make sure that you send out regular recognition and reward. Don’t just say you’re proud of how your team has responded make sure you demonstrate it in a tangible way. Celebrate those milestones by recognizing them in an out loud fashion.
So here are some key takeaways I’d like to leave you with that hopefully you’ll be able to use.
- Work hard at being fun and silly--The days of making employee engagement a nice thing to do are over. They are absolutely essential for the success of your team. Make time because your work is going to require a lot of laughter.
- Go to great lengths to treat your employees more like human beings then staff or teammates. Let’s be real, people are leaving the workplace in droves because of the stresses associated with the end of true work-life balance. Ask how they are handling things.
- Make it authentic by being excited about what your teams are doing and make it clear to them their efforts are appreciated.
We learned a lot in 2020. We now, more than ever, appreciate what work stress really is. The new world we’ll see in 2021 is one that none of us has any idea what to expect. Who saw how 2020 was going to shape up. We do know the new normal will continue to stay the new normal well into 2021. We know what to do so let’s not focus on what we aren’t doing.