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Updated on: Saturday, July 24, 2021, 01:19 PM IST

Covid-19 impact: What organisations can do to keep their workforce happy amid the pandemic

The pandemic has shaken up workplaces. With pay cuts, layoffs and work from home, many have been thrown out of their comfort zone. Many have quit or want to quit as the new normal is stressful and unstable. Here are ways in which organisations can stop unhappy employees from quitting their job
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Not all employees quit for greener pastures. With COVID-19 came the uncertainty of jobs. But, for some who had hung on for years, it was time to call it quits. The reasons could be many. But if loyal and efficient employees quit, organisations should take notice of the issues and retain the right people.  

Episodic effect

Abhishek Agarwal, president — Judge India, Global Delivery at The Judge Group, opines that upheavals shake the morale and beliefs of even those who have no dissatisfaction — triggering a negative domino effect among the employees. “In such cases, mitigative actions and their response time play a crucial role in upholding the faith of the employees. Timely grievance redressal, manner of redressal and transparency and fairness of the process are the points of inflection that decide which way the scales will tip.”

Perfect workforce is a utopia. Anjali Agarwal, CHRM, CashBean, PC Financial Services Pvt Ltd, thinks so. “The CEO’s influence impacts how employees are seen and whether they can set aside their difference to work together. It’s a top-down approach where leadership’s quality percolates all the way to mid-level management and the fresher within the organisation.”

“Some possible underlying factors could be an expectation mismatch or ideals of the employee and the employer not being aligned,” Ambika Srikrishnan, counselling psychologist, Medall Mind. “The prerequisite for any organisation would be to identify and establish a common vision and set clear communication from both ends.”

The after-effects

For Anjali, running a company is a science with its success dependent on ‘the assured delivery of its service, function or product to the consumer’. “The organisation’s ability to function is galvanised by a workforce that is in harmony with the workings of the company. Nevertheless, the repeated changing of the workforce, especially the key managerial workforce, results in disharmony,” she says.

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It is vital to make grievance handling an important aspect for its smooth running, says Abhishek. “When employees begin to doubt if they will be heard and represented adequately for voicing their concerns, it deprives them of the assurance of an appropriate solution. When employees are fearful of the repercussions of bringing an issue to light, a wave of mistrust in their peers and superiors grips the organisation. Trust once lost is hard to regain.”

Workplace hostilities and politics can be a major role in creating an employee-unfriendly workplace, says Srikrishnan. “The attitude of an individual changes once planted with seeds of anger, disappointment or insecurity and can affect the collective consciousness of an organisation and how they play out in a particularly hostile environment. Individuals may feel less motivated to engage in conversations, programmes or goals as office politics could often form an association with a toxic work setting,” she says.

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Employees moving on are a sign of things to come. Anshuman Das, co-founder and CEO, CareerNet Technologies, thinks so. “When competent people leave, then it is ‘the start of the evident end’ which the organisation is headed for. Over a period, incompetent and only yes-man will stay. They will push the organisation to the lowest level of performance.”

Making the effort

Das says, “A strong and independent HR function can implement several systems and processes to weed out incompetent and non-performing managers. 360-degree review and skip level feedback and review mechanisms are few systems that can ensure that there is a maker checker system, and employees are heard and well-engaged.”

It is essential to look into the root cause of migrating employees. Anjali feels communication gap is a primary reason. “This is where the senior HR managers step in to probe the internal company culture and create channels of communication between management and the employees. Senior HR is the last line of defence and should always seem approachable. Another way is to introduce work flexibility; it will also go a long way in making employees feeling fulfilled. A visible and fair R&R system gives the employee a sense of achievement and gets them more invested in the company.”

Sustaining employees is an important factor. “Regular appraisals, collaborative working spaces promote creativity and drive productivity and contribute to a healthy work environment. Allowing new ideas, encouraging and respecting different perspectives could be a good starting point in making employees feel heard,” says Srikrishnan.

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Employee talk

Some advice is reserved for employees too. Ambika says, “Opening up about one’s emotions may seem difficult but it’s only when there’s release, can there be any room for further integration. Holding spaces for one another and checking in with colleagues and subordinates about their emotions can also be a good way to normalise dialogue around mental health.”

It is obvious, according to Abhishek, that petty issues don’t need HR involvement. “With that said, the most critical part of any conversation is mutual respect. Employees must be polite, reasonable, and coherent when putting forth their grievances. It is then easier for the listener to relate and empathise. If the grievance seems serious with potential fallouts, the opinions of other employees must be included in deciding what follow-up action must be taken to avoid the problem from recurring.”

With talks of holistic workplaces, Das says companies should opt for a whistle-blower and skip-level feedback and review mechanism. “HR should encourage employees to reach out to them for any issues. Confidentiality should be respected and the focus should be to solve the overall issue and not bury it within the bureaucratic layers of the company.”

These small steps can surely lead any organisation to have employees that want to stay, rather than need to.

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Published on: Sunday, July 25, 2021, 07:00 AM IST
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