Communication with employees and teams is always meant to be a two-way street but the COVID-19 pandemic has made listening to your people more important than ever. As we move into the new year, leaders must understand individual needs in order to take the workforce forward.

As much as the pandemic had a macro-level impact on society, our institutions, and the economy, it was the micro-level impact on the lives of individual team members that became a concern for many business managers and leaders. Listening to team members must be a priority for anyone who wants to keep their employees feeling safe, confident, and motivated. This is vital for leaders who themselves are thinking about where and how we work, and the lessons we’ll remember long after the pandemic is over.

According to a recent report by EngageRocket, The HR 2022 Outlook, employee resilience, mental health, and employer satisfaction all declined in 2021, with almost 20% fewer employees feeling optimistic about their company’s future between 2020 and 2021. Burnout climbed by 9% in 2021.

The report highlighted three areas for HR to focus on in 2022:

  • Develop a two-way communications strategy: Listen to the voice of the employee and base future communications on employee input. This can help shape follow-up actions, creating a closed feedback loop.
  • Arrange for continuous listening: If you haven’t already, begin by conducting employee lifecycle and pulse surveys along with 360-degree reviews. Brief and regular sets of questions will result in valuable feedback from them.
  • Enable more frequent check-ins between employees and managers: This will help you to detect and address problem areas early on.

Benefits of a culture of constant listening
Transparent communications help to gain buy-in from the entire organisation at a time when it is most needed. Forrester’s Predictions 2022: 2022 Will Go Down As The Year Executives Were Forced To Care About EX, warns against failing to prepare for “an onslaught of emerging employee experience (EX) challenges”.

Executives have been paying attention to human capital for several years, but none of this increased attention has prepared them for the corresponding increase of employee power.

Employees are now in a different frame of mind as a result of the turmoil they have experienced for almost two years of their lives. They desire different things, and they expect better resources to help them succeed at work. They might even want different career outcomes. And when they look about, they notice evidence that suggests they can ask for and receive the realistic things they desire.

Companies have many decisions to make, according to Forrester’s predictions, including where employees may work, what tools they should have at their disposal, and how managers might transition from supervisors to coaches.

This may sound overwhelming, but as McKinsey has pointed out, it is an opportunity for companies to rethink the employee experience in ways that respect home lives, skills and capabilities, mindsets, personal characteristics, and other factors, while also adapting to rapidly changing circumstances. There are many listening techniques and technologies available, all of which hold the promise of creating collective feelings of well-being and cohesion across the workforce.