Maintaining Productivity Through Times of Uncertainty and Beyond
By John Street, Operations Director, Agilitas
2020 has revolutionised the way we work, with the opportunity to work from home now an expectation for both current and future staff in many industries. With 83% of employees now feeling that they don’t need to be in an office to be productive, many are instead seeking a great workplace culture, employee collaboration and communication with their employers. Feeling valued is critical when developing high performing teams, so leaders need to tailor their approach to the individual needs of their employees and lead by example.
Despite the challenges faced last year, successful Channel businesses were able to respond rapidly and adapt their employee engagement strategies while maintaining workplace satisfaction and growth. Satisfaction and productivity go hand in hand, and those that have implemented strategies and technology to maintain efficiency, kept work fulfilling and helped staff deal with uncertainty are the ones who are moving forward in the best possible positions.
If the last 18 months has taught us anything, it’s to let go of the illusion of control. There was nothing we could do to prepare as an industry for the challenges that were to come, and one of the worst things you can do as a decision-maker is to ignore or deny the uncertainty your team members might be facing.
With much more reliance on IT and online services, the Channel industry became more important than ever, so avoiding what the sector was facing was not an option. With so much uncertainty surrounding day to day operations, teams needed reassurance to keep them both comfortable and engaged with their work as well as offering a safe space to voice any concerns. Without acceptance and putting employees first, productivity will suffer which results in end users paying the price.
As was the case with so many Channel businesses, the pressure to deliver has increased in line with new demands, which has meant emotions running high among employees. Recognising the stress affecting employees and expressing concerns with team members inspires them to be honest, supportive and encouraging, boosting motivation and morale in the workplace and in turn, this raises productivity levels.
By providing concrete solutions and an action plan for times of uncertainty, teams are prepared should difficult situations arise, and are more equipped to deal with delays, disruption and emotions that could take a toll on their day to day lives.
Provide a sense of purpose
Channel businesses that share the same sense of purpose and goals as their workforce are the ones that perform well in times of crisis due to their ability to adapt quickly to change. This is because these organisations put the company’s core values and mission at the heart of what they do. This means building a shared sense of purpose that encourages employee participation, the raising of concerns and building a culture where understanding and encouragement of each other’s career goals ensures that staff are developing in line with the changing needs of the channel industry. This results in employees feeling motivated, appreciated and committed to the business they work in.
The pandemic has demonstrated how quickly we may need to adapt, so goals should be updated and reviewed frequently to ensure they always align with the business’ and employees’ values. While channel businesses should be regularly checking that their goals and values are in keeping with what employees expect, the industry now has a significant focus on flexibility of working practices, so refreshing policies around remote working has become a priority.
Cultivate a culture
When it comes to achieving high employee performance, successful managers need to be able to draw on an existing strong workplace culture to support and motivate their teams. This, in turn, helps to encourage employees to maintain a healthy work/life balance.
Channel businesses are now expected to dedicate significant time and resources to building and maintaining a positive culture to support their workforce’s well-being. This, when done right, doesn’t have to impact the budget or demand lots of time, but with employers taking the initiative to invest in the well-being of their team, a positive culture will inevitably grow and thrive.
Strong workplace relationships are also an essential part of a positive workplace culture. If employees aren’t spending time getting to know their colleagues and are having limited interactions, a strong culture won’t be able to develop. Therefore, the industry needs to encourage and nurture social connections by providing employees with opportunities to come together through events and team-building exercises.
Leading by example
The way any leader presents themselves and tackles difficult circumstances is crucial and can have a lasting effect on both the workplace culture and team morale.
During the pandemic, employees looked to their superiors for assurances, to be inspired with confidence and to be provided with solutions. To sustain a high performing team during a crisis, it is vital that leaders remain proactive and consistent in their messaging and continually adapt to the situation at hand. In short, during a period of uncertainty, workforces depend on their employers for direction and drive within the channel.
When building a high performing team, decision-makers need to think beyond the here and now and into the months and years ahead to recovery and reignition and have a plan in place for when the industry recovers and beyond. In order to achieve that, a resilient, productive and loyal workforce with a strong workplace culture cannot be understated, making it a key part in ensuring your team does not just survive crises but emerges thriving.