24 March 2021
Work environment: what about the employees?
The Covid-19 crisis induced deep structural changes in the professional world. Facing lock-downs, many companies have had to urgently adapt their modes of collaboration to guarantee a continuity of their business. With hindsight, many of these companies realized that they were capable of much more than they would have imagined on many topics (e.g. work from home, change in managerial practices, digital collaboration…).
Far from being a “simple back-to-normal”, the end of lockdown has been a unique opportunity for companies to capitalize on these changes and initiate a sustainable transformation with employees, rather than at their expense. To sustain this transformation, companies need to define what we call a work statement that must take into account the company’s strategy, as well as the new needs of employees. The objective of this work statement is threefold: to define a new human vision, to rethink the work environment, and to guarantee an excellent employee experience.
Define a human vision to ensure consistency of decisions
To respond to the exceptional human issues generated by the crisis, many companies are tempted to implement measures hastily to ensure a rapid recovery of activity. While acting quickly is obvious, they shouldn’t be rushed either: focusing only on short-term benefits can lead to inconsistencies and even be counterproductive in the long term.
But how do you know if the initiatives taken today, whose short-term effects prove beneficial, will be coherent and useful for the company in the long term? If, and only if, the company takes the time to define a clear people vision, which clearly states the direction the company wants to take regarding all the people issues directly impacting employees. This people vision must be intimately linked to the business strategy and must explicitly include the biases to respond to all the human issues facing the company, including the new issues arising from the crisis.
Rethinking the work environment to make it more meaningful for the company and its employees.
The work environment represents all the material and people elements likely to influence a worker in his daily tasks. The ensuing issues are varied: work spaces, telecommuting, corporate culture, managerial changes, etc.
The Covid-19 crisis has accentuated the need for companies to rethink all these aspects of the working environment, in order to create the conditions to allow employees to be more fulfilled and efficient in their work.
Where to start? What initiatives are essential to employees and what impact do they have on productivity? According to its context and its previously defined human vision, each company must co-construct with its employees a clear roadmap, which identifies and prioritizes the initiatives to be implemented to achieve a working environment in line with the human vision of the company.
Measuring experience to ensure that it is (and remains) satisfactory
Employee Experience, which corresponds to the totality of professional, physical and social interactions experienced by employees within organizations, must be particularly considered by companies in the current circumstances. In times of crisis, the experience can be durably altered for employees who will be all the more sensitive to the decisions made by the company that directly impact them.
To better understand the experience of employees, it is essential to understand the heterogeneity of each person’s needs and expectations. Indeed, each initiative implemented will be experienced differently by employees, and it is important to define key human indicators to be monitored in order to regularly measure the satisfaction (and dissatisfaction) of different categories of employees. By analysing these indicators and understanding the reasons justifying a degradation of the employee experience for a part of the employees, the company will be able to propose relevant corrective actions to try to maintain a satisfactory overall employee experience.
HR must be pioneers and ambassadors of this transformation
Co-constructing with employees to rethink tomorrow’s working environment in line with the human vision of the company has become a necessity for all companies. The current crisis provides fertile ground for a sustainable transformation to be carried out by and for employees, while enabling the company to meet its operational objectives.
The HR functions, directly involved in all these issues, must embody this awareness within the company, and involve all stakeholders in working towards this transformation and the construction of a coherent collaborative pact.