Employees Are Concerned About the Future – How Managers Can Show Empathy & Flexibility


Rhiannon from Hibob takes on the manager’s role to enhance employee engagement amidst times of massive burnout amongst the employees and the role of empathy in doing so.

Due to the economic downturn and the fact that there is no clear end to the pandemic, people are looking for ways to adjust and thrive despite the indefinite period of uncertainty that lies ahead. People are putting in extra hours while also managing childcare and other home responsibilities, making it necessary for HR teams and managers to support employees who are facing added responsibilities and external stressors. Living alongside the pandemic has changed not only the place people work, it has affected their hobbies, their sports, their family and friend gatherings, and their leisure time; life has changed quickly and not temporarily. This creates stress.

A company is only as good as its people.

It is not just a saying, companies are made of people working, caring about their job, achieving their goals, getting things done, giving service to customers, to each other, helping each other.

Employers rely on their employees. Just a few months ago, when everyone was in a hiring mode, there was a very specific reason to recruit each and every person that was added to the company. Employers know that in order to grow, their company needs the employees to push forward and make this happen. Employees need to be cared for. Mental care is imperative to the health of a company’s people and ultimately to the health of the business.

These are challenging times, employers and employees are struggling these days. Employers have to overcome certain obstacles and employees have to overcome other obstacles but these challenges are there because of the same unexpected global predicament. Businesses are being challenged in unprecedented ways with budget cuts, furloughs and layoffs. Separating from the talented people they worked so hard to recruit, onboard and train! The impact on employees that are with the company are longer hours, and a need for greater productivity, whilst facing personal challenges at the same time.

Employers need to help employees find the balance even much more than they did previously. In a recent study of full-time employees in the U.S., Hibob found that Hibob found that 37% of people feel equally as productive from home as in an office setting, and 13% said they feel more productive than in their usual office setting – even during the pandemic.

Employers need to make sure they are maintaining a positive and healthy culture because this culture not only helps retention of people and talent, it also directly impacts the company’s ability to attract the best talent.

Before the pandemic, 69% of candidates said they would reconsider an offer if current employees seemed burnt out.

The majority of job seekers base their perceptions of a company on information provided by the organization: 32% of candidates look at a business’s website to learn about an organization, 29% contact current employees to understand the office experience, 19% look through social media pages and only one-fifth of candidates use information from sites like Glassdoor to inform their search; the responsibility of managing expectations falls into the hands of organization itself.

Not surprising to say – communication is key to building a positive healthy company culture.

Companies with a healthy culture practice transparency and openness in their communications top to bottom and back again. Employees must feel supported and comfortable approaching their managers.
In addition, developing a healthy culture, means employees trust their colleagues, managers and HR teams so that they feel comfortable discussing their concerns openly.

Companies must build a culture of trust, empathy and confidence – first between managers and employees and then ultimately between HR and employees. HR holds the reins when it comes to supporting and guiding managers, and is integral in establishing policies and making resources available.

HR can foster two-way communication with surveys or polls of employees to get a pulse-check about how they are feeling or what they want from their company. This of course should be in addition to direct communication from managers and HR to teams about available resources and support they can expect so they can establish trust Employees need to know and feel that the company wants to support them. Fostering honest and open communication with some employees can be improved with anonymous feedback tools like bob has to bring up issues and concerns safely.

Actively show your support
HR teams and managers must take action to make sure employees feel supported during times of uncertainty. First important step is to show authentic flexibility. Flexible work hours, extended paid sick time, stipends for setting up home offices, and even educational opportunities. All these are valuable for HR teams to invest in.

Helping employees thrive during these perplexing times is to build a culture of growth that recognizes success and inspires development so employees can reach their full potential even now. Especially now employees need to be recognized for their work and achievements. Internal communications should include Shoutouts and Kudos to people who deserve it. People need to be included and feel they are part of a bigger group, a team.

The world of work has changed very abruptly and that is a subset of the change in our lives. Our lives have changed and we have to navigate through these challenging times. Employees need and want to thrive even through these challenging times and the way to help your employees succeed is to communicate with transparency about the business, to be flexible and exhibit empathy, to acknowledge hard and good work and to reap the rewards of a healthy culture and prospering company. When our employees thrive at work the company thrives and remembering that, helps us focus on helping our employees overcome the challenges of these unforeseen times.

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Rhiannon Staples
Rhiannon has been architecting global marketing strategy, teams, and programs at fast-growing startups for more than 15 years. Prior to Hibob, she served as the Global VP Marketing of NICE Actimize and Global Head of Brand Marketing at Sisense. Rhiannon also built a marketing consultancy and served as a CMO for hire to help maturing B2B companies build the infrastructure and programs needed to scale globally.  www.hibob.com


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