The Value of Employee Communication: Creating a Two-way Conversation
The new normal has been around for almost a year. Looking back, we can now analyze the most challenging problems of the transition to remote work.
How are companies handling the shift to remote work?
How are leaders engaging their employees in the remote workplace?
What worked and should be emulated?
What didn’t work and should be avoided?
Weeve surveyed more than 350 CEOs, HR leaders, and employees across the US to understand how this shift affected the workplace. We want to share with you insider info (and surprising stats!) on challenges, gaps, and successful strategies in this new world of remote work.
Biggest challenges of remote work
Our survey found that 60 percent of CEOs and 55 percent of HR leaders perceived coronavirus as having a negative or somewhat negative effect on their organizations.
Since half of employees work remotely (Weeve State of the Remote Workplace,2020), that brings a whole new set of challenges. As most of us would have expected, social isolation was perceived as the biggest concern for CEOs, HR leaders, and employees.
Many organizations believe that we’ve already solved the logistical issues in transitioning to remote work (workspace, technology, scheduling, etc.). However, leaders may be surprised to learn that internet connectivity was the second biggest problem identified by employees. Organizations should first ensure that their remote workforces have the right environment and tools to perform their jobs effectively before changing focus to more cultural impacts.
Executive and HR leaders also believed that child care would be a top issue. That ended up being at the bottom of the list of concerns for employees (17 percent). As it appears, employees integrated work and life (child care) while using their homes as offices. Here are two examples of why it happened:
Splitting working days into blocks. Some employees might work in blocks of time (8 ─ 11 a.m., 1 ─ 4 p.m., and 8 ─10 p.m) and spend the remaining blocks nurturing their family needs.
Multiple shorter breaks instead of one big break. Employees at home can take small breaks during the day to interact with the family and solve problems before they escalate.
Company leaders should notice this disconnect if they want to deal with the biggest challenges in the workplace. This disconnect stems from the lack of a two-way conversation between employees and leaders.
How is employee communication affecting the new normal
Effective communication reduces the risk of a disconnect between employees and leaders.
Employees saw no noticeable changes in their relationship with their managers. However, leaders and HR managers had the opposite experience.
52 percent of executives and 56 percent of HR leaders said it’s harder to connect with their employees. This is despite the massive amount of time leaders are spending in communicating with employees. Executives spend an average of 31 hours a week. And HR leaders are not far behind, spending 26 hours a week communicating with employees.
The problem is in its effectiveness— the communication needs to be a two-way conversation.
Proof of a one-sided conversation is in the data. 83 percent of executives and 89 percent of HR leaders say that their company doesn’t use crowd-sourcing as a problem-solving tool.
Employees voice their needs, ideas, and issues only when (formally) asked. This robs the executives and HR leaders of valuable inputs they could be receiving from their employees.
Creating a two-way conversation
When Jean Francois Zobrist became the CEO of FAVI, he spent the first year of his term going around the shop floor and talking to his employees. He spoke with his employees before embarking on a revolutionary change. The two-way conversation was a major point of Zobrist’s success.
Remote work doesn’t allow you to visit the shop floor and talk with your employees. You still need to know how your employees think, feel, and operate not to fall out-of-touch.
You need these two activities to create a two-way conversation in a remote workplace:
automated check-in tools
You use a one-on-one meeting to have an in-depth conversation with your employee.
In that meeting, you check their needs and ambitions, collect feedback, and talk about their goals.
But you can’t have a one-on-one meeting every day. They require a lot of preparation from both the manager and the employee.
That’s where the second activity comes into play— automated check-in tools. Contrary to one-on-one meetings, these tools allow leaders to stay connected to employees without spending dozens of hours.
Weeve’s automated check-in tool is called Kim. Our empathetic AI chatbot has organic conversations with employees to understand their issues, concerns, and problems.
Managers will never fall out-of-touch if they use one-on-one meetings and automated check-in tools such as Kim.
We are in danger of missing the latest needs of our workspace without a continuous two-way conversation. You don’t want to fall out-of-touch with employees.
Investing in new technology such as automated check-in tools creates a smooth transition into remote work. Our AI chatbot Kim can help you out in this transition.
Want to learn more? Check this survey on steroids that provides real-time insights.