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Improving Employee Engagement and Productivity While Working From Home

As Singapore enters Phase 2, one wonders how effective the Work from Home (WFH) arrangements of the companies have been or will be. A webinar, held on June 4, and attended by 130 members brought forth many interesting insights on how to improve employee engagement and productivity, while everybody worked from home.

Organised by NUSS’ Human Capital Community of Practice (CoP) group and moderated by its Deputy Chairperson, Mr Daniel Chia, the webinar had some key takeaways for the participants.

Mr Leong Chee Tung, Co-founder and CEO of EngageRocket, a Human Resource-oriented analytics company, opened the session by sharing the findings of a survey conducted by his company that highlighted the top concerns of Singapore workforce, which were not business-related, but of health and economic impact on the country. This was followed by having a family member contracting COVID-19 and the WFH arrangements impacting their productivity and performance. The study was conducted over 13,000 employees of 95 companies across 15 industries.

A 50% increase was noticed in concerns relating to job security and cost cutting during the Circuit Breaker (CB) to post-CB. “The companies should proactively communicate about employees’ jobs being secure. If they were not able to guarantee jobs, the employees should be informed at once,” said Mr Tung.

He also shared that working longer hours, distractions and access to resources and tools were the common challenges faced by employees during the CB times. But post CB period, the workforce had adapted to the new work environment and learnt to manage their working hours and distractions better. However, access to resources and tools continued to be a problem. To transit fully into the “new normal”, he suggested that companies should look into developing infrastructure to support WFH arrangements amply.

“Investing in employee engagement and culture was very important to get through a crisis such as this, with managerial support playing the most critical role. Being able to trust their direct manager, getting appropriate feedback and communicating effectively- all make a big difference,” he opined.

Mr Tung also addressed the concern of the employees of not being able to fully ‘switch off’ after office hours, as Mr Chia pointed out the emergence of Zoom burnout and the tendency to respond to emails and calls even after office hours. “Understanding that the employee was not expected to respond to emails/calls made beyond 7pm, amongst others, had helped my team work more effectively once these protocols were set in place. This also allowed employees to manage expectations and prevent burnout,” Mr Tung shared.

The presentation ended with some key points to ponder and implement for the employers and business owners, such as equipping the team managers to be able to support their people adequately through the crisis and fostering strong and regular communication to instil confidence and resilience among the employees.

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