Happy Employees in 2021: Mission Impossible?

Happy Employees in 2021: Mission Impossible?

Narrow perspective, specter of an epidemic rebound... 2021 promises to be a year of little serenity and happiness. However, 7 out of 10 working French people (72%) consider that work contributes to their personal happiness, according to the OpinionWay survey for Microsoft France1 2020. Under such conditions, don't let yourself be discouraged and make bad luck with a good heart. Your mission, if you accept it, is to re-engage your employees and get the well-being back in their eyes before their morale drops completely. You don't have to be Ethan Hunt to realise the magnitude of the task at hand. A re-commitment that involves the well-being of your employees and medium to long-term projects

Recreating the link via digital... But not that

What's left when there's nothing left? The (corporate) culture, you might say, but even more so... the relational one. The Opinion Way study for Microsoft France1 2020 states it: social ties are the primary motivation for work. Thus 36% work for the social bond that work provides, while 26% rely on the company to develop important personal relationships (friends or spouses) .

Take the test, since your employees no longer have premises, no more on-site events, no more table football, no more coffee breaks, does your corporate culture alone, through its values, its mission, its rules ... allow you to maintain a certain cohesion with teams scattered to the four winds? 

However, while recreating rituals is good practice, it would be a mistake to rely strictly on the digital . This is not without generating exhaustion, both physical and moral, in the form of Zoom Fatigue. Therefore, it is advisable to take this into account and to adapt the duration of the format of meetings and other modules (no more than 30 min or even a break every 1h30). 

It appears that telework is better accepted when accompanied by a few days of face-to-face work. Many HR professionals report recurring questions from candidates as to the number of face-to-face days or the existence of face-to-face onboarding. Two schools are competing: the 2 days on site or the 1 to 2 days of teleworking (fixed.s or moving.s), it's up to you to choose.

It should be noted thatthe two successive confinements raised the expectations of employees regarding telework from 1 day per week before the first confinement to 2-3 days after confinement.  

Thus, as soon as the context lends itself more to physical reunions, you can reanchor some of your rituals and other fetish events on site, not to mention "catching up" on the integrations of new recruits who had been kept at a distance.

Making feedback a lever for collaboration

In the face of the increased complexity of business lines, top-down evaluation is no longer sufficient. With the growing demand for feedback from new generations, the rise of project mode work, the focus on agility and matrix organizations: these new ways of collaborating call for innovation, in terms of development and skills. Building a feedback culture within your company will not only strengthen the relationship between your managers and their teams (especially in teleworking), but will also break down the silos between the different poles.

Born in the 1970s and designed for company managers, the 360° Feedback method is the crossover - based on a set of criteria - of a self-assessment and the vision of the employee's professional environment (colleagues, hierarchy, team and sometimes customers outside the company). Very concretely, the manager, peers and other collaborators fill out the same questionnaire for the same employee, allowing to highlight the differences in perception on the skills and operational expectations of each.

This practice allows to reinforce a feeling of recognition following the positive feedback from each person, but also areas for improvement that allow the employee to develop and eventually become more fulfilled in his work!

Objectives to (re)give meaning to work

Today, employees absolutely need to see the purpose of their work; trades have become so technical and specialized that employees no longer even see the fruits of their labour. To overcome this problem, employees' goals must be aligned with those of the company so that they can see the impact they have on the company's development.

Moreover, the implementation of objectives must above all be a tool for communicating the vision to the entire company. Used properly, objectives can be a lever for visibility and alignment for more fulfilled employees and a more efficient company. In this sense, objectives can give meaning and autonomy to employees, allowing them to freely express their critical intelligence.

Encouraging side-projects

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 55% of employees have reflected on the meaning of their work, or even its usefulness .

Freeing up time to allow employees to develop in areas that are truly important to them, whether they are satellites or complementary to their current position, is a path to follow. The action will have the effect of enriching daily practice or learning new skills (hard skills as well as soft skills). 

It can of course take the classic form of an intrapreneurial project or by making time for oneself available. The side-project - which is a personal project often taking the form of an entrepreneurial adventure - can provide the breathing space needed to avoid a hasty departure from the company. 

But this activity can be supervised by the company. In an emergency, it initially took the form of a loan of labour, with the pooling of skills at the heart of the company's efforts to safeguard jobs. It is the responsibility of HR to maintain this collective intelligence mixed with mutual aid and thus strengthen ties with stakeholders in order to promote employee mobility.

The other option is patronage. According to Admical's biennial barometer, 7 out of 10 companies say they can keep their sponsorship budget. Among them, skills patronage (whose overall share represents only 11%), which consists of donating time or skills to a CSR-related cause, has gained in importance, under the effect of the crisis. 21% of companies have already used it.

Involve your employees more in company decisions

For employees to be able to blossom in their work and feel the joy of getting up in the morning, they must be made more aware of their individual impact on the success of the company. A March 2019 APEC study highlighted the need to share regular information on corporate strategy and vision. It is by becoming aware of the ins and outs of his or her many efforts (clear vision of his or her role, contribution and competence) that the employee will be able to find meaning in his or her action and mission. In order for the meaning to take hold, it is vital to define the role and objectives of the employee. 

Each employee can contribute to the improvement of the working environment or to its organization. In the context of a freeze on salary increases in many organisations, development can be achieved by giving more responsibility . Similarly, on the HR side, it is necessary to regularly update the job description (tasks and expectations) according to the feedback received and the evolution of talents. In order to function effectively, this co-construction logic must necessarily be accompanied by participative management. To know in which direction to go, there is nothing like administering surveys and other surprise reports. 

Respect personal constraints 

Teleworking has not only enabled some people to continue their activity, but has also brought back to the forefront the thorny issue of work-life balance, which has since become a transgenerational issue.

Because if burn out was at the top of the psychosocial risks, to this one and its many variants(Brown out, Bore Out) is added Blurring. We must stop thinking that there is a watertight wall between the two. Indeed, private life necessarily influences professional life and vice versa.

Inorder to improve the well-being of our employees, we must make their daily lives easier so that they can concentrate as much as possible on their tasks. 

This can be achieved through flexible working hours, a post office layout or additional services (house hunting , etc.) for example. Work must leave room for privacy. 32% of employees surveyed by OpinionWay express the need to work in a position that allows them to better appreciate their personal or private time. To avoid any risk of overwork, it is important to be aware of your employees' pain points and their teleworking conditions so that you can do the best you can. This is why it is important to take the time to collect feedback, using dedicated tools such as those offered by Elevo. 

Giving substance to your commitments 

"Do what you say and say what you do."

This is how the feedback gathered during the annual interviews must be followed up .

The #BalanceTaStartup movement, which splashes some young shoots, is symptomatic of (over)promise, which is in essence disappointing. It often crystallizes as a gap between a societal mission described as "revolutionary" on paper and the experience of reality. Yet the employer brand has slipped from the hands of companies to the side of the employees themselves. Stop the bullshit or unprovable rhetoric, which the younger generation has learned to spot. If you want to take your employees on board over the long term, it is more important than ever to speak the truth, in all circumstances. 

Finally, despite the encouraging figures in the OpinionWay survey, do not underestimate the malaise at work (stress, over-investment, lack of consideration or recognition, harassment...). You say you defend values such as team spirit, kindness or respect? Probe the feelings of your teams and learn how to separate yourself from the toxic elements, maintaining a deleterious atmosphere, which would inadvertently hide among your employees.

Remember: 56% of employees work for meaning and not for pleasure. 

As the philosopher and novelist participating in the OpinionWay / Microsoft France1 study, Charles Pépin, states, the study "clearly confirms that our happiness is less within us than between us: nothing makes us happier than a quality of bonds, and even a quality of daily bonds. Our bonds do not add to our primary identity to make us happy; they are the raw material of our happiness."

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Happy Employees in 2021: Mission Impossible?

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