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Designing happy workplaces during a global pandemic & beyond

Updated: Mar 8, 2023

The ongoing uncertainty & volatility in the global market, coupled with the current pandemic, are making it a lot more challenging for companies worldwide to keep their employees happy and engaged. The pandemic also has a knock-on effect on the overall satisfaction of the customers. Who would want to be served by a stressed employee? How can we expect employees to satisfy their customers if they are worried about many things in life, both personal and professional?

We all heard the saying happy employees = happy customers. We genuinely believe this to be true. We have seen the positive impact of designing happy workplaces both for the employees and their customers. We have worked with clients who faced similar challenges in the past. It sounds like a daunting task, but it’s not impossible. Employee experience is at the center of designing happy workplaces. Here are our top tips for designing happy workplaces during a global pandemic & beyond.

Encourage ongoing dialogue with employees

Understanding employee concerns and challenges regularly will allow you to address them before they cause further dissatisfaction promptly. Launching regular pulse surveys (a few questions every quarter), organizing regular focus group sessions, managers holding weekly open dialogue clinics are just some things that will encourage your employees to share their immediate concerns. Implementing these actions is a great opportunity to nurture a culture of psychological safety and for HR and leaders to prioritize and action employee concerns.

Co-create experiences with employees

It’s not enough to ask employees about their concerns and challenges; getting them engaged means involving them in coming up with solutions and making the necessary changes. Consider creating task forces or people communities where members are passionate people from different parts of the business who would like to make a real difference in the workplace. Once you have the task force or people community in place, we recommend that HR takes on the role of a coach & mentor guiding people on how to go about making the change.

Communicate! Communicate!

Imelda Marcos (remember the wife of the ex-Philippine President with thousands of shoes?) once said the “Perception is reality and truth is false.” This quote is very accurate in most organizations, especially in large corporations. Any changes or experience enhancements, if not communicated properly, will never be adequate. People need to know what is happening with the feedback they have given in the last survey or focus group session they have attended. A well-crafted communication plan is a key to changing people’s perceptions about the old legacy processes that have been re-designed. Partnering with your internal communication is key to the success of any experience enhancements.

Celebrate regularly

We love to celebrate things. No matter how big or small the experience enhancements are. Be sure to find opportunities to honour them with people. Use these opportunities to recognize people for their contribution and acknowledge the journey you have embarked on. Happiness is contagious. Regular celebrations in the workplace create a warmer environment and strengthen that sense of belonging of people. Try it! You’ll be surprised by the results.

When you combine all our top tips, designing happy workplaces during a global pandemic and beyond is all about how you make people feel. Maya Angelou once said, “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. So, the next time you design or launch your next people initiatives in the workplace, think about how your employees or even your customers would feel. Think about using the empathy map used in design thinking. It will give you many insights as to how people might feel in a particular experience. Lastly, it’s ok if you don’t get it right the first time. Designing happy workplaces is a journey that involves many ups and downs along the way. What’s important is that you have the mindset of ongoing enhancements on areas that really matter to people.

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