Why remote working policies are not enough | theHRD – The HR Director Magazine

The skills shortage of the post pandemic economy has put power into the hands of the desk worker. As a result, businesses are offering flexible work models to attract and retain top talent; in the UK, the overwhelming majority (91%) of tech companies now offer hybrid working arrangements for employees, with 42% of them providing completely flexible working. In 2022, 30% of the workforce now works remotely 100% of the time.  

The post-COVID world of work doesn’t seem to be going anywhere and leadership teams have a new requirement: to ensure they don’t fall victim to “The Great Reshuffle” because of outdated remote working processes and policies.  

Whilst remote and flexible working offers its perks, it is not a silver bullet for talent retention, and it makes it difficult to create a strong corporate culture which plays its own vital role in keeping people invested. At the same time, organisations today are increasingly creative in their search for talent, relying not only on full and part-time employees but also on a more expansive and connected talent. The emerging workforce also includes long-term contractors, temporary gig workers, subcontractors, third parties such as app developers, consultants, designers, and more. Orchestrating this talent pool requires new approaches to leadership, technologies, and management practices. 

So, instead of employing remote working policies that simply create a distant network of siloed employees where communication, progression and access to innovative technology is stagnated and broken, a workforce “ecosystem” must now be established and fostered. Choreographing this elegantly requires a significant shift in management practices and leadership style as well as the adoption of smarter technologies. 

One of the most important elements of the employee experience is their interaction with tech – the applications and data that run your business. Do your operational systems make it easy for employees to get their work done? Or do your operational systems make employees feel like their time and talents are not valued, as they are forced to hammer away at tasks  they will never complete because your prescribed processes are not supported by your operational applications? Are there systems that the C-Suite never use, but are required for use by the rest of the workforce?  

In the past, IT focused on optimising each operational system on its own, while HR was left with a frustrated workforce who had to adopt inefficient processes that were changed without their input and often, in their view, for the worse.  

Now, companies that take a process-centric point of view – that is, identifying and mapping how tasks are accomplished – are starting to align those process maps with employee experience data. By finding the key interaction points between employee experience and operational systems, senior leadership can identify what areas of their workplace employees are enjoying and what areas need re-assessing. Once you understand that, the next question is how to scale those processes across borders and remote workers.  

The pandemic has sent employee influence into overdrive 
With many businesses making the digital pivot to keep operations running during the pandemic, the corresponding rise in flexible working has caused employees to re-assess their relationship with work. Choice over how and where you work has suddenly become obtainable and desirable. 

Employees who have benefitted from an improved work-life balance over the last two years are keen to protect their new status-quo. What’s more, they aren’t afraid to move jobs to do so, particularly if their current employer isn’t insensitive to their needs. The quicker c-suite executives come to terms with this, the better, or risk costly staff churn.  

Savvy executives also recognise that the employee experience is not just a human resources-led effort – it starts from the top down. Employee experience and culture is the new value proposition and should be at the top of leaders’ agendas when re-configuring working strategies post-pandemic.  

Applying the customer experience approach to employee experience
The most successful business transformations start with proper benchmarking. You can’t move forward until you know where you’re starting from and, crucially, how that position compares to your competitors. Many companies invest heavily in understanding how their customer experience stacks up, but not their employees’. The good news is that the learnings from customer experience are applicable and interchangeable. 

In most enterprises, there is currently a disconnect between cost and efficiency-focused business process management (BPM), and the resulting impact it can have on employees. This disconnect is one of the main contributors to HR issues today and the reason most flexible working rollouts miss the mark in retaining staff in the long run.  

Better process and data can connect businesses
To become more employee-centric, businesses must adopt a more outside-in perspective on their operational execution. How can this be achieved? By being both process and data led. Crunching the numbers is one of the most effective ways to ensure employees are satisfied – increasing both engagement and retention levels over time. 

At SAP Signavio, we’re committed to providing an experience-driven journey to process analytics. We can help businesses understand how their underlying operations impact employee sentiment by correlating any shifts in employee experience with any changes in operations, enabling organisations to explore their overall impact on business KPIs much more effectively.  

This level of process intelligence helps to increase employee engagement and retention by shining a light on the impact that your IT infrastructure has on your workforce. The days when process intelligence was a theoretical exercise or ‘nice to have’ are long gone. The ability to quickly change business processes in response to shifts market and customer behaviour is now a key source of competitive differentiation. It is only through a process-centric point of view that businesses can create a data-driven and collaborative workforce culture that supports the necessary agility and responsiveness.  

Better understanding of employee satisfaction across all functions – whether that be part-time, freelancers, or contractors as well as full time employees, gives HR and process transformation teams a much broader set of facts that they can use to align and optimise processes in ways that wouldn’t otherwise be considered. Forward-thinking organisations are already using technology like this to ensure the human impact of business operations is brought to the forefront of leadership’s minds and tackled accordingly. By taking process insights and predicting the operational challenges their employees may be facing day-to-day, the c-suite can catch issues faster, work on internal improvements, and prevent their staff setting eyes elsewhere. 

The gathering of employee sentiment and engagement insight data is a ground-breaking step towards creating value for workers across this entire new business ecosystem. This effort requires management, process, and leadership practices to evolve hand-in-hand, which process, and data driven insights. It is only by understanding how employees feel in a remote and flexible workforce that leaders can target pinch points and create truly connected companies that empower employees to succeed, regardless of when, where, or how they choose to work.

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