By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

Remote working is no longer the ‘new’ normal. It is just normal now. 

Hallway conversations, informal lunches, and break sessions, pop-in status reports are on hold for an indefinite time. COVID-19 has ushered us firmly into the age of remote working, where even the most traditional organizations had to adopt this trend.  

With the rules of engagement witnessing an overhaul, HR teams, and organization leaders are grappling with the challenge of keeping these newly remote teams engaged – especially since the individuals making up these teams have their own culture and personality. 

There has been a dramatic shift in the manner in which organizations are operating today, making engagement a difficult game to win. While these unprecedented times continue to impact the workplace and the workforce, organizations have to think of creative ways to make this distanced working environment more engaging so that productivity and employee happiness are not at opposing ends. 

Coaching can become a venerable tool in the HR and leadership arsenal to keep employees engaged. Here is a look at why this is so.

Maximize talent despite the distance 

Remote working is different and demands a different way of leading. Organizations thus have to look at how to help their employees navigate this new normal by guiding them on maintaining a work-life balance while delivering maximum productivity. 

Coaching them to adopt a flexible schedule, develop a flexible mindset, and maintain self-discipline in the absence of constant monitoring are important to drive productivity. Helping them become more goal-oriented, detail-driven with elevated accountability and ownership levels also drive productivity and engagement. By coaching effective prioritization skills and helping employees develop a ‘can-do’ attitude, organizations can keep employees effectively engaged while maximizing the talent despite the distance. 

Guide for growth 

Since millennials are the primary demographic in most organizations, it is imperative to remember that growth is a key engagement driver for these employees. In this remote working environment, it is natural for employees to be concerned about their growth within the organization.

Apart from identifying and providing coaching to meet the employees’ technical skill requirements, organizations also have to identify the power skills gaps by using data from assessments such as 16 Personality factor Tests and Behavioral Skills assessments. Coaching employees on these skills will tangibly impact their professional career and help them become high-potential employees. It helps in driving employee engagement by demonstrating investment and interest in employee growth. 

Drive leadership development 

Remote working or not, organizations have to work continuously to drive leadership development in the workplace to keep employees engaged. Whether it is to identify next-generation leaders or identify high-potential employees, a focus on leadership development also helps in keeping employees engaged, especially in the world of remote work. 

Coaching can play a significant role as an enabler of engagement by helping remote employees understand how to navigate complex relationships, establish greater credibility, cultivate strategic thinking, and develop the capacity to exert influence on decision-making.

In the absence of physical interactions, leadership development coaching guides employees on building and leveraging strategic networks and drive authentic engagement needed to proceed in their careers. 

Read: Critical Leadership Skills that High-Potential Women Leaders Should Be Groomed On

Bridge the skills gap 

Despite the world of work going remote, organizations cannot put a pause on their upskilling and reskilling initiatives. However, while technical training programs help in closing the skills gaps, organizations also have to focus on bridging the power skills gap. Skills like communication, collaboration and influence, problem-solving, innovation and execution, strategic thinking, and the like are essential to driving productivity and engagement. 

Developing a growth mindset is also a prized skill that organizations are looking for to increase the employees’ mental tenacity, especially as the world of work becomes increasingly complex and competitive.

Read: What Can Organizations Do to Develop an Entrepreneurial Growth Mindset Amongst Employees?

Coaching plays a big role in navigating the hard skills and power skills conundrum. Owing to its continuous nature, coaching outcomes drive behavioral change, which helps employees understand the organization’s investment in their growth story. This then becomes a powerful driver of engagement since enablement here drives engagement. 

Empower managers to drive successful teams 

The time to walk the ‘lead by example’ talk is now. In this new world of remote working, the eyes of the employees are fixed on managers and leaders. Managers need to be coached on how to identify the individual talents of individual team members. They also have to discover how to interact with and guide less-experienced employees best through challenging work situations and help them progress along their career paths. Many managers are also leading remote teams for the first time and need coaching on how to best guide their teams for success. 

The absence of physical interactions also means that managers and leaders now have to become clearer in their communication skills and build skills to recognize effort, anticipate team reactions, assess team confidence, appreciate employees, and provide effective feedback. Along with this, managers also have to coach their teams for success and learn how to develop their emotional intelligence to keep team motivation and engagement high. 

Read: How Has the Role of Leadership Changed with COVID-19?

Managers can rely on effective coaching to help them navigate the new challenges and implement the behavioral changes to drive highly successful teams. 

The role of coaching is becoming increasingly important to keep employees happy, engaged, and productive in these challenging times. 

Running and working in remote teams requires specific skillsets and new attitudes so that productivity and engagement levels remain consistently high. It is perhaps time to look towards AI-powered technology and rich analytics to drive highly relevant and contextual coaching programs and help employees deliver their best performance and remain engaged. Consistently. 

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

eLearning is not a new term for the enterprise. Most organizations have robust eLearning initiatives in place to meet their reskilling and upskilling needs. Over the years, online training has established itself as a viable and reliable alternative to classroom training – one that has been effective both from the cost and time perspective. 

As we move into a post COVID world where remote working and distributed teams are the new normal, organizations are looking to ramp up their eLearning initiatives to keep the wheels turning on their training and development initiatives. 

Reports show that comprehensive training programs lead to 218% higher revenue per employee than organizations without formal training programs. 

Robust training and development initiatives also contribute significantly to employee engagement, especially as the millennials become the dominant demographic in the workplace. 

Read: The New Normal in Employee Engagement – Power Up your People

However, when it comes to eLearning, even training programs built by experts are designed to satisfy general needs. People attending these training also have to have the right motivation to complete the training successfully and implement the learning in their daily activities.

While eLearning works (the eLearning market is projected to be worth $325 billion by 2025) and learning retention rates are said to increase between 25 percent and 60 percent over time because of eLearning, there is an opportunity to power it up as well – with coaching.

Coaching and eLearning – A match made in heaven 

Millennials and digital natives, the demographic that makes up most of today’s workforce, are motivated by personal and professional development initiatives. However, just any run-of-the-mill training program will not make the cut. 

Here’s a look at how coaching can be the ideal companion of eLearning to deliver exemplary results. 

Develop the context

eLearning programs are goal-driven. At the end of the modules, participating individuals should be able to achieve ‘X’ results or be able to do ‘Y’ things. While the modules are comprehensive enough to achieve this, employees often do not implement the learning in their work because the context is missing for them.

Complementing coaching with eLearning helps the employee understand the context. A coach can guide an employee through the maze of context and help them see the training’s relevance. A coach can also recommend contextual eLearning initiatives for the employees to help them navigate the career path with greater confidence.

Personalization matters 

Today is the age of hyper-personalization, and coaching can make eLearning truly personalized – extending it beyond the ‘name’ personalization. 

Using technologies such as AI, organizations can find the correct Coach-employee pairing. The coach can then guide the employee on how to progress along their career path and navigate the challenges that emerge. During this course, the coach helps them identify areas they need help and push them to  select tailored training programs to meet their exact needs.

AI can also be used to provide personalized and contextual nurturing actions that include delivering personalized notifications, reminders, alerts, commendations, and more. Such activities make online interactions more engaging and motivating.

A robust coaching platform will connect the right coach to the right employee and also deliver AI-driven nudges to address individual skill gaps and identify unique learning processes. Such high levels of personalization also help in driving better engagement since there is a tangible impact of the training on the employee’s career path.   

Coaching enables continuous learning 

Technology-driven coaching platforms also allow enterprises to supercharge their eLearning initiatives by driving continuous learning. 

Unlike a regular training program, where the information disseminated is often lost once the initial enthusiasm wears off, coaching helps to keep the momentum going. Coaching helps employees identify their needs and skills gaps more proactively as well. 

For example, developers and coders have to now learn new technologies faster as the shelf-life of technologies is reducing. A coach can help such employees identify which skills they should proactively learn, how these skills will help them, and what other skill sets they need to develop to move further along their professional paths. Learning, then becomes part of the organizational culture, and the implementation of the learning by employees becomes organic since coaching enables behavioral change. 

Deep engagement analytics provide transformational insights into the efficacy of these development initiatives and help organizations tailor-make coaching and eLearning programs to meet the shifting needs of today’s enterprise. 

By proactively identifying the skill needs of the workforce, organizations can navigate today’s complex business landscape faster, increase their capacity to innovate, and at the same time, have a workforce that is highly motivated and deeply engaged.

If you want to improve the outcomes of eLearning initiatives, you may want to think about offering coaching initiatives to your employees. 

Connect with us to learn how to seamlessly connect the two.

By Madhukar Govindaraju, Founder & CEO

In the last few weeks, companies around the world have directed their employees to work from home to maintain social distancing and to safeguard themselves from the further spread of COVID-19.

While people welcomed the move, they are finding it difficult to strike a work-life balance.

Children interrupting a conference call, poor internet connectivity, and the blurring line between work and personal life are some of the challenges that people are facing right now. To add to the woes, employees not used to the system of working from home are grappling with loneliness and burnout. In fact, companies like Microsoft, Deloitte, and Procter and Gamble are reaching out to professional counselors and psychiatrists to help employees to tackle the current pandemic and the loneliness caused by social distancing. 

With no immediate respite in sight, employees are compelled to realign the way they work with the existing techniques.

So, what can employees do to stay productive while working from home?

Tips on Staying Productive While Working From Home

Flexible schedule and mindset

You may see a dip in your productivity levels as you work from home. There will be distractions, numerous calls from managers and team members, and some of you may also have to work across different time zones to collaborate better with team members from across the globe. Considering that this is the need of the hour, you need to develop an open mindset and be open to working in a flexible schedule to align yourself with other team members and to ensure that there are no negative implications on business. 

Self-discipline

It is easy to lose self-discipline while working from home. You may feel tempted to snooze the alarm clock and sleep an extra hour because you don’t have to get ready and travel. In fact, there have been reports on how employees turn up in home clothes for video conferences. It is advisable to follow self-discipline and remind yourself that you have to go to work even if it means working from home. Following the same routine of waking up at the same time, getting ready, and starting work at the same time will help employees to stay focused and disciplined throughout the lockdown period. 

Motivation

With no water cooler discussions, team lunches, or occasional walks at the garden, you are bound to feel disconnected and lonely. It is essential to stay connected, especially during these times, when there is panic all around the world. Checking in with the team members before the meeting kickstarts, working at the same time, and virtual tea sessions are some ways to keep the team members motivated. InMobi, for example, has asked managers to connect with their staff individually. Every Thursday, the team members wear caps or connect while having tea or coffee. “We are trying to ensure that we don’t lose the connect. It’s important for employees to meet and connect,” said Sahil Mathur, the global head of HR and culture at InMobi. 

Verbal and written communication skills

Imagine receiving an email that has no clarity on what is expected. In the usual situation, you would walk to the sender’s desk and get your doubts clarified. But imagine the same situation while working from home. An unclear message can delay the completion of tasks. Much time will be spent on understanding, calling, and emailing people back and forth. As Kim Koga, a solutions engineer at Zesto.io said, “Sometimes I just need a quick yes or no, or a time frame of when something can get done, and our internal communication tool doesn’t cut it. I could wait hours for what could be a quick response in person.” The only way to solve this issue is to communicate clearly with the team members, leaving no room for misinterpretations or miscommunication. It will save other’s time and lead to timely completion of tasks. 

Collaboration and teamwork

Several projects demand people to work in collaboration. It also requires them to manage projects on a large scale. So, how do companies ensure collaboration when employees work from home? Luckily, they can leverage collaboration tools such as Slack for communication, Zoom for video calls, and Trello to manage projects. Maintaining ongoing communication will also foster teamwork despite people working from different locations. Appen, a US-based machine learning company, for example, used a variety of collaboration tools and internal forums to drive communication and to troubleshoot common issues. 

Time management

The lines between personal time and work have blurred. Employees have multiple chores to finish and not to forget numerous distractions that could lead to delay in completing a task. Focusing on work can also become challenging. Hence, time management is crucial. You must learn to schedule your time and demarcate your personal time from work time. Switching off completely after calling the day off, avoiding multitasking, and prioritizing tasks, are a few ways to manage time efficiently. 

The lockdown may get extended for a few more weeks, prompting companies to seriously consider making some of their functions virtual. It can help them streamline their operations and reduce establishment costs. With telecommuting becoming popular, and collaborative tools making it easy for people to work more efficiently, we foresee more remote working opportunities in the future. Employees must take this experience as a learning opportunity to get acquainted with the future of work. The onus also lies upon companies to find ways to keep employees engaged, so they do not face burnout or loneliness while working. 

Find out how to keep the employees engaged during and beyond the current COVID–19 pandemic.

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

Technological evolution, changes in demographics, and the subsequent transformation of social norms have made today’s workplace significantly different from what it was even a few years ago. One area that these changes have impacted greatly is that of employee engagement and employee experience.

With an increasingly tightening job market, organizations are coming to terms that having employees who are excited to simply have a job is a vestige of the past. Motivating, engaging, and thereby retaining talent is now a priority. The tricky part is that with the demographic change in the workplace, motivations driving engagement have changed. 

While non-monetary perks have risen in importance, agile work environments are becoming more popular. Employees today want to be connected to the organization by a sense of shared purpose. Learning and development initiatives are now important drivers of employee engagement.

With so many changes happening in the workplace, one thing is crystal clear – employee engagement is now all about powering up the workforce and ensuring enablement happens at work. 

How can organizations do that?

Target a specific audience for engagement

Gone are the days when one engagement model could be rolled out across the board in an organization. Millennials and Gen Z, two of the fastest-growing demographics in the workplace of today are driven by ‘value’ and want this theme to resonate across all the activities of the organization – employee engagement included.

Employee engagement also has to ensure that it reaches all the employees – remote workers, part-time workers, contractual workers, and frontline workers. Whether they go to an office or operate from a virtual one, it is essential to keep all of them engaged irrespective of when and where they work from.

Given these dynamics, organizations have to sharpen their employee engagement focus and look at targeting the specific needs of specific audiences such as first time managers, women leaders, and inside sales representatives. 

In today’s day of flagging engagement levels, it is imperative that organizations understand that the rules of engagement that would fit a new hire, for example, could be very different from the long term employee. Engagement here for long-term employees could also mean getting all employees aligned with the organizational and strategic changes.

Engagement for women leaders, for instance, would drive greater results if it is focused on creating mentoring opportunities, identifying the specific hurdles at work alleviating them, and providing a more inclusive, empathetic and learning environment.

Thematic exploration

In the new world of work, employee engagement has to be a highly targeted activity. Instead of looking at employee engagement as one big picture, it makes sense to look at the tiny pieces that fit in to create this picture.

A good place to start this thematic exploration is by understanding what employees want and expect their workplace to fulfill. Agendas that are relevant to today’s workforce include many areas and are not limited to their work alone. Topics like diversity and inclusion, work-life balance, leadership development, and anger management are important words in the vocabulary of today’s employees.

For example, research shows that 57% of employees feel that organizations should be more diverse. Organizations have to look at this seriously as diverse teams routinely outperform non-diverse ones. Diversity initiatives for employee engagement also have to now move beyond day-long training programs that do not compel a change in behavior. However, this goal can be achieved successfully by leveraging mentoring as a tool. 

Work-life balance has also become an important driver for employee engagement. Research shows that employees with good work-life balance work 21% harder than those who don’t. This makes work-life balance an important employee engagement agenda. 

Anger management in the workplace is another pertinent topic in the engagement conversation as it impacts the office environment. Creating an empathetic environment and enabling employees with the right set of tools to specifically manage explosive situations can augment employee engagement across the table.

Focus on skill development as the basis of engagement

Organizations have to take a close look at their learning and development initiatives. Along with focusing on technical skills development, they have to also now focus heavily on power skill development in the enterprise. 

Power skills such as communication skills, growth mindset, self-management, interpersonal skills are all extremely beneficial to organizational health. Power skill training on decision-making, communication, and problem-solving can lead to better team relationships. Focusing on developing these skills as a part of engagement initiatives can help employees build deeper and more meaningful relationships at work, thereby boosting engagement and also leading to a more robust bottom line. 

According to an MIT Sloan study, power skills training in specific areas yields a 250% ROI over a period of only eight months.

It is high time that organizations revamp their employee engagement strategies and focus on creating meaningful exchanges at work over things that impact work and employees. 

It is all about creating a workforce that works with passion and feels a profound connection with their organization. Increasing engagement at work is now a strategic priority for obvious reasons. It is time that we approach it in a strategic manner as well.

Try NumlyEngage™ platform. Companies around the world are leveraging it to deliver measurably greater employee engagement and business growth by bridging the growing soft skills gap in enterprises.

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

The world is bracing itself against the Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic. Many organizations are scraping big-ticket events − Facebook’s F8 2020 Developer’s Conference and the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2020 already stand canceled. Companies like Microsoft, Google, Twitter, and the like are taking deliberate steps to support their staff with remote working opportunities to keep the workforce productive, without compromising on health.

Twitter, for example, has made it mandatory for all its 5,000 employees located in Hong Kong, South Korea, and Japan to work from home. Facebook is conducting interviews via video−conferencing instead of in−person. Amazon has asked its Seattle workers to work from home as well for the time being.

While Coronavirus risk is pushing organizations to support remote work, the fact is that, for many companies remote working has already become the new normal.

−A report by PWC shows that 64% of millennials would like to work from home.

− Another study by Buffer on the state of remote work in 2019 showed that ‘99% of the interviewees reported that they would like, at least once in their career, to be able to work off−site’.

− A Zapier report showed that approximately 74% of the workforce would quit a job for one that offers remote working options. The report further elaborated that 57% of the workforce consider remote working options their ‘most preferred employment perk’.

A Upwork study revealed 63% of companies now have remote workers.

Companies such as WordPress have augmented the case for remote working as well. WordPress, for example, runs on a 100% distributed team and runs at a successful net worth of $1.16 billion.

It is hardly a surprise that remote working is growing at a phenomenal pace. As we waltz into the age of hyper−mobility, remote working is emerging as a valuable tool for organizations − to gain access to a skilled workforce, irrespective of location, and to improve competitiveness.

With remote working becoming a grounding reality, organizations have an important question to consider − how can they engage a remote workforce? While it might seem that enabling remote working should be enough to guarantee high productivity, the isolation element of remote working can impact the engagement levels of employees.

Not being physically present with other team members and colleagues can have residual effects on team performance, individual productivity, and communication. Consequently, it impacts employee engagement as well.

So what can organizations do to keep their remote teams from falling into the chasm of disengagement?

Identify high−potential remote employees

In the midst of acute skills shortage, organizations are increasingly compelled to look within their workforce and identify high−potential employees who can fuel their leadership pipeline. Lack of interaction and contact between employees owing to physical distance can lead to discontent and flagging motivation levels. All of these contribute to lower productivity and end up impacting the bottom line negatively.

Just like the in−house workforce, organizations have to give equal opportunities to their remote workforce to thrive in their careers. It is essential to have clear, open, and transparent communication along with a proactive feedback process to enable employees at work. The absence of face time and day−to−day interactions should not be an impediment to identify hard−working employees and help them navigate their careers to success.

Provide opportunities for skill development

Not all are created equal in the work environment. However, the tables often turn unfavorably on remote workers as organizations do not focus on the skill development of this remote workforce as their other counterparts.

However, while it can be easy to identify the technical skill development needs of this workforce, finding out where they need help to hone their power skills can be a challenge. Power skills such as problem-solving, communication, decision making, collaboration, and such are important tools that help navigate the workplace challenges and also increase employee engagement levels. Along with this, power skills also help in creating a more mature and well−rounded leadership pipeline − one where power skills complement technical skills.

Enable self-development

The art of self−development is a critical art to master in remote working environments. However, the boon often becomes a curse in the absence of direction when it comes to chart one’s career path.

It can be hard for remote workers to know how they can improve, and which development aspects they should focus on, especially in the absence of everyday interactions. This can lead to dejection and flagging engagement, especially if employees feel they are not rewarded at the end of the year. The reality of today’s work environment is that people have to be self−motivated. And organizations have to enable this self−motivation and self−development.

Helping employees understand the areas of improvement and development, especially in a remote environment, can be a challenge. However, organizations can leverage assessments such as 16 Personality Factor (16PF) Assessments to help their workforce identify their potential and development needs quantitatively.

Armed with this information, organizations can leverage coaching as a tool to help their remote workforce navigate the skills chasm (especially soft/power skills) and drive business results by becoming more engaged.

Say goodbye to generic engagement programs

Engaging a remote workforce means saying goodbye to archaic, one−size−fits−all engagement programs. Given the rising number of millennials in the workforce, their proficiency and ease with technology, and their predisposition towards personalization, engagement programs need to be tailored to meet each enterprise function and the audience specifically.

Employee engagement initiatives can be broken down into smaller programs that will resonate with the remote workforce. This could include aspects such as core values and skill development, innovation engineering, new hire skill development, inside sales coaching, sales management coaching, and many more. Taking a tailored approach that accounts for the unique development needs of the remote workforce helps in driving up engagement levels, even in remote teams.

Along with all this, to boost employee engagement levels of the remote workforce, organizations should foster shared values, ensuring that employees, irrespective of their location, are bound by common work principles and attitudes. Shared values have to be a part of the everyday existence of the employees and hence have to be communicated clearly, and repeatedly. It can be an incredible tool to boost engagement with remote teams.

NumlyEngage is an innovative platform that enables the development of soft skills through personalized coaching, in a structured and consistent manner, and enhanced by Machine Learning and AI. Talk to us to know how you can leverage the power of NumlyEngage to deliver measurably greater employee engagement for your remote workforce.