Remote work is bringing a new era of management where "it’s less important to see what employees are doing and more important to understand how they feel”, says a HBR article, interpreting the results of a Gartner survey, in April 2021. With the pandemic re-structuring entire work models, employee wellbeing has become a top priority for companies of all sizes. Managers who display high levels of empathy would have 3 times the impact on their employees’ performance than others. But how to create a workforce of empathic managers, especially in small and midsize companies, where managers are often doers as well, and financial resources are more constrained? Some companies have started to implement practices to help their managers become well-being advocates.
The 1st idea is to develop 'Empathy skills through vulnerable conversation practice.' It’s not easy to go from a work culture where work and personal must remain separate to a culture that encourages empathy and asking about personal things. By practicing with peers, managers can engage in conversations so as to troubleshoot current managerial challenges. They learn and progress in a safe environment where failing is allowed, and they benefit from each other’s feedbacks.
Another idea is to empower a new manager mindset by creating a network of support. It can be having an employee within the team whose responsibilities include fostering trust and psychological safety and supporting team health. For the manager, that means not being alone to face the reality of challenges brought on by a distributed team.
A third idea is to create manager capacity for empathy by optimizing reporting lines: if the team is smaller, the manager can spend more time fostering deeper connections and responding with empathy.
However, while most companies are elaborating practices in order to maintain well-being at work, some of them have also innovated in terms of work surveillance. Infact, according to Gartner, 30% of companies in the US have implemented some surveillance tools during the past months so as to measure things such as the time spent on the computer, the activity on Slack, etc. An example in Canada shows a woman who was fired in December 2020 by her employer, an Alberta cleaning company, for refusing to download an app on her personal phone that would check her location and ensure she was working her scheduled hours. This raises several questions:
How to combine efficiently well-being and employee's surveillance?
What do these surveillance practices say about the management style of the company and its ability to efficiently manage remote work?
Stay tuned for our 'Future of Work' playbooks, that will combine the knowledge and expertise of top leaders of the Franco-Canada business ecosystem to guide us through this New Era of Work Models.
Contact the experts- firstname.lastname@example.org
Riva Walia (MD FCCCO) Mathieu Rumeur (Strategic HR Consultant FCCCO)