The pandemic has shined a light on what distinguishes a good employer from a great employer. Many workers have taken the past few years to reevaluate their priorities and determine whether their company matches their values. It’s also highlighted the gap between companies that are prepared to modernize their business model to reflect the times and those who are stuck in the past.

If businesses aren’t willing to invest in their employees’ well-being as well as important technology like unified communications, they may quickly find themselves short-handed and falling behind. However, behind every challenge is an opportunity for growth. What technology and skill set can you invest in today that can help your employees successfully meet the challenges of the future— creating a workforce that is future-proof. Follow these five steps to engage your employees and make sure your business is ready for whatever comes next.  

1.Practice Curiosity

You and other decision-makers at your company have probably spent a lot of time asking yourselves big questions: How do we fulfill our mission statement? Who is our client base? Where are our opportunities for growth? Much of the time these discussions occur behind closed doors, and while they’re important conversations to have, they’re not the only ones that should be happening.

Take time this year to practice curiosity about your business on a granular level. Talk to your employees about their experiences and ask them their thoughts. Often, those on the ground floor have the most interaction with your clients or know the smallest details that keep everything running. What works for them? What concerns do they have? What do they have to contribute and how can you facilitate that?

Begin these discussions with an open mind, asking new questions and understanding that you might not already know the answers. Explore avenues that might not be the most obvious. Try different ideas, and don’t be afraid to fail. Exercising genuine curiosity is an important leadership trait that takes practice but ultimately leads to exponential possibilities for growth. 

2.Embrace Empathy

This second tip builds on the first. Curiosity is the start of connecting with your workforce, but empathy puts it into action. In fact, 70 percent of workers believe empathy drives employee motivation, according to the 2021 State of Workplace Empathy Study by Businessolver.

One result of the pandemic is that it has thrown the experiences of each individual into perspective. What works for one person may be completely unproductive for another. When you begin to ask questions, be open to a variety of answers and know they might all be correct on some level. Try to really listen and understand where each person is coming from.

One key aspect to maintaining worker well-being is to meet them where they are. The last few years have been a wide-scale experiment in new styles of work. Many companies have recognized that personalized, non-traditional schedules lead to increased productivity and happiness. This is reflected in employee satisfaction, as 93 percent of Businessolver respondents said that having the ability to work remotely showed their employer’s empathy.

Allowing flexible workdays, recognizing progress, encouraging mental health and sometimes simply listening not only makes you a better leader but keeps your employees feeling fulfilled, healthy and engaged.  

3.Foster Collaboration

Once you’ve worked to understand your employees’ needs, it’s time to come together and collaborate. It looks like non-traditional offices are here to stay, with a majority of people saying they want to work from home at least part of the time.

With blended workspaces blurring the line between in-person and remote, it’s important to ensure that everyone feels connected no matter where they are. Over half of IT decision-makers expected their time spent collaborating with colleagues will slightly (30 percent) or significantly (21 percent) increase over the next two years, according to a study by 451 Research.

Twenty-eight percent of respondents said that improving ways to effectively collaborate with others would benefit their performance.

Real-time communication is key, whether you use chat, video conferences, phone calls or email to keep on top of projects. Using all-in-one tools and integrated collaboration software make switching between modes of communication seamless, allowing teams to collaborate just as if they were all together in person. Intuitive communication facilitates trust between colleagues, which in turn facilitates creativity, a sense of belonging and that elusive authentic culture that employees value. 

4.Adopt and Adapt Technology

When lockdown first hit, companies were thrust into the digital-first world, whether they were prepared to or not. Now, almost two years later, even the most self-identified “technology laggards” have gotten on board, with most workplaces reporting that they are “as productive” or “more productive” than before, according to another 451 Research study on productivity.

Now that they’ve adapted to using remote technology, businesses are looking for ways to boost productivity even more. Thirty-five percent of IT decision-makers surveyed by 451 Research wanted ways to more easily store, find and share information; 30 percent wanted ways to better organize, plan and prioritize their work; and 28 percent believed that finding ways to effectively collaborate with others would improve their productivity.

Taking advantage of technology is no longer optional for companies. Making the investment in cloud storage, unified communications systems and employee training is critical for success. Adopting the right technology can make or break the productivity of your workforce. 

5.Maintain Flexibility

The final way to future-proof your workforce is something we’ve all been practicing for a while now - maintaining flexibility in the face of whatever comes next. Though it may be challenging, continue to embrace change and allow your company to grow and adapt.

Listening to your employees and recognizing that each of them have unique needs will not only make you a better leader, but it will help guide your business through whatever lies ahead. Meeting workers where they are reminds them that you care and encourages satisfaction. After all, a happy employee is more productive and dedicated to their job.

Technology has helped with this transition already and integrating it into your workflow will keep your employees engaged and your company successful. Using new tools instead of trying to force old ones to work will keep you connected and on top of your game.

2020 was a year of sudden change. 2021 was a year of adjustment to a new normal. 2022 is the time to focus on the future. No matter your needs, Mitel can help you prepare for tomorrow.

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