A version of this post was originally published on July 15, 2021, in HR News.
As the CEO of an e-learning company, I have had the opportunity to work with hundreds of clients from diverse industries. Employee engagement often comes up, which is usually a symptom of a much larger motivation issue.
Indeed, whether we’re talking about the pre or post-pandemic workplace, motivation was always on our minds. The switch to working from home has only made it harder for businesses to adjust to new demands, recruit staff and avoid a large turnover rate. In the short and long run, sticking to business as usual and being inflexible will show when it comes to productivity.
7 Ways to keep employees motivated post-pandemic
While there is no overnight solution to changing your company’s culture, some businesses have managed to dodge the above issues and even thrive in the process.
Here are some key things that we’ve done differently:
Prioritize employee voice
I can’t stress this enough: giving employees a voice pays off. Feeling unrecognized and unappreciated is the number one enemy of motivation. Finding out what employees think and want can be done in many ways, such as surveys, focus group chats, and one-on-one sessions, so there is no excuse to rely on guesswork.
Plus, it’s important to keep an open mind when it comes to flexible work arrangements. Adjusting to a pre-pandemic schedule takes time. If employees want to return to the office on their own terms, it means they have good reasons to do so and might even be more productive at home.
Upgrading training tools
How much time do company members spend doing administrative work? How easy is it to access important information? Every now and then, businesses can benefit from a tech overhaul. For example, some companies deliver training using two or more platforms because they were unable to find a more robust one years ago. In this scenario, you save money and time by choosing a more powerful learning platform.
Plus, employees should be able to access these tools from anywhere to increase their productivity at home and in the office.
Upskilling is one of the most important incentives. Of course, this process involves decisions based on tasks and job analysis so that you could either create in-house resources or have a go-to third-party provider.
For effective training, make sure that you’re offering a wide range of options. For instance, asynchronous training can take weeks to complete. Employees should have the freedom to incorporate self-paced courses into their work schedules. One or two hours dedicated to learning each week means tens or hundreds of hours’ increased productivity. Or, you could provide micro learning that employees can take any time, in 10-15 minute sessions.
Giving employees more choices
The HR department should be able to support each employee on their learning journey. With so many analytics tools available for individual learning data, it’s now easy to recommend courses and close learning gaps.
Consequently, employees can be on different learning paths and at the same time have a say in what they want to learn. This helps create a sense of purpose as they’re not just completing mandatory training. It’s about pursuing goals that are meaningful to them. Learning management system (LMS) integrations with third-party providers such as LinkedIn Learning can help any company diversify its course catalog.
Being open and transparent
Business transparency is a way to communicate to employees that they matter. Companies that do this successfully will openly discuss business goals and challenges. People in key management positions demonstrate authentic leadership by explaining why team members need to complete tasks, not just what to do.
It’s also up to the HR department to discuss learning goals and how they’re related to the company’s end goals. In successful training programs with high engagement rates, the employees become partners who understand why you’ve selected particular skills and how these skills will help them have more autonomy at work. Otherwise, taking courses can seem like just another mandatory requirement that they have to do.
Selecting the best training
One thing that tends to be brushed aside in the corporate training world is the choice of training based on what sounds good instead of quality. For instance, there is little evidence that motivational seminars work in the long run, but companies still pay good money for employees to attend.
If you’re offering training based on guesswork, it’s mostly going to fall short of expectations, which doesn’t help with motivation. Instead, building training based on scientific evidence will save time and money. There are many instructional designers and L&D professionals that can assist you with this, even as part-time consultants.
Accessible meetings and events
Staff who are working remotely often feel left out of meaningful conversations. It’s important to address this head-on and always offer the possibility to attend hybrid meetings and training sessions.
Hybrid events can be easily managed by requiring leaders to announce meetings in advance and create web conferencing links for all of them. This scenario also applies to informal events, in which team members catch up and discuss things that aren’t necessarily related to work.
Motivating employees in the shaky post-pandemic landscape comes down to removing barriers to remote or hybrid work. Most of all, it’s about investing in your employees’ wellbeing and involving them in decision processes that affect them directly and indirectly.
Graham is the CEO and Founder of CYPHER LEARNING and MATRIX. He is a serial entrepreneur, e-learning enthusiast, published author, and educator.