How Leaders Can Reenergize the Employee Experience for 2021 and Beyond

Most will agree that COVID-19 has forever changed the employment landscape. Will business ever return to pre-pandemic recruitment, onboarding, employee development, and performance management? Who can say? What remains critical, however, is evaluating the employee experience throughout the process to fully engage employees and elevate productivity.

Here are the areas leaders need to review to upscale the employee experience and reach out to top talent.

The way leaders hire top talent has drastically changed because of COVID-19.

Many roles have moved from in-office to remote, and often the entire talent acquisition process has gone virtual.  

After a seismic shift in how the world works, leaders find they are no longer restricted to only local candidates. Nationwide even global searches for the ideal candidate have become the norm. Because there are no restrictions to specific locales, competition for talent has increased.  So, it’s more important than ever to provide, and plan for, a strategy that captivates candidates seeking an appealing employee experience.

In reviewing the employee experience, leaders need to have a comprehensive look across the cyclical span of a typical employee. From recruitment to the final stage of a positive exit interview, leaders need to understand what occurs at every step and how it relates to their company’s culture and ultimate purpose. Evaluations also should encompass the mid-process stages, including hiring, onboarding, building an employee’s purpose, gauging their performance, and developing their career growth. 

If the talent search has shifted, leaders can consider these strategic points in reevaluating the employee experience.

  • Document the skills, experience, and knowledge of your current workforce. Are you using that information to train employees to take on new skills? Is this information used to fill current roles in the company?
  • Evaluate and then categorize current job roles as on-site, remote, or hybrid. Determine which job roles require a final in-person interview and which do not.
  • Has there been a change in talent pools since moving to remote work environments? Can HR leverage these greater candidate pools to acquire more diverse talent?
  • Capitalize on the efficiencies of virtual recruiting. What part of the job candidate process has changed for the better?

Onboarding is still critical for new employees, even if they do not meet their colleagues in person.

It’s the first opportunity for a company to make a good impression, introduce new hires to the company culture, and lay the groundwork for greater engagement. As the onboarding experience continually reshapes itself throughout 2021, leaders should rethink their approach to new hires finding meaningful connections.Here are some critical areas to address when reevaluating the onboarding process.

  • Ensure both in-person and virtual onboarding processes are equal to engaging and creating connections for new hires.
  • Create a network for new hires to leverage in the short and long term.
  • Consider and collect feedback from managers and employees who work closely with new hires.

Driving Performance is still necessary even amid Uncertainty.

High job performance requires clear expectations, ongoing accountability, and consistent collaboration.  With disruptions and uncertainty playing a more significant part in today’s business environments, it’s no wonder employees are distracted with unclear job responsibilities and accountability. Over half of all employees work from home since the onset of the pandemic, making collaboration difficult. As some employees return to the office, others continue to work remotely creating hybrid teams with new challenges and expectations surrounding job performance.

With new challenges comes the opportunity to re-strategize performance:

  • Consider focusing on short-term goals until the business has stabilized.
  • Give training to supervisors on how to manage remote teams.
  • Review performance management and update performance metrics to accept uncertainty or future disruptions.

Create or review employee development strategies.

In most organizations, employee growth and career goals remain non-existent. To upgrade the employee experience, employees need to understand they have a future, which means a long-term plan for career advancement with an organization.

  • Plan a strategy for employees to acquire new skills.
  • Address how employees can advance their careers when they work remotely, and their managers no longer “see” them working.
  • Determine how to upskill employees to meet new organizational goals and needs.
  • Address how to develop mentoring and networking opportunities to remote employees to ease the feeling of isolation.

Employee well-being is a significant concern and should be a focus during challenging times.

Record levels of stress and burnout have become a constant during the pandemic. Social connections and a work/life balance, especially for remote workers, are suffering. Remote employees may be struggling to bring normalcy back to their households with children at home and distracted because of the additional stress remote work can bring.

So, how do leaders maintain workforce well-being?

  • Address the need for managers to see each team member as individuals as they develop or engage with them.
  • Develop strategies that employees can use to handle work burnout and virtual meeting fatigue.
  • Create a culture where employees’ well-being is front and center.

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