As part of The Manufacturer’s Recovery Toolkit series of webinars, we invited experts in the field of employee engagement and leadership to discuss some of the ways they believe the world of work and business will change as a result of the pandemic.
Fiona Anderson of valuingYOU and My Change Expert, and Bob Gibbon of The Performance Learning Company were joined by George Efthimiou of Hitachi Solutions, our partner for the event. The webinar was hosted by Nick Peters, who has distilled some of the key elements.
What effect will the crisis have on future employee engagement?
Fiona Anderson Unless you get your employee experience right, you’re not going to get to the stakeholder outcomes you’re seeking, because that employee experience creates the whole experience, the customer experience and the end user experience.
Your people have the solutions to how things need to be different when they come back to working together collectively, for the benefit of the company, and your customers.
What will be needed from us as leaders is that extra lift, that extra trust within the boardroom. If you haven’t got trust within your boardroom now, if you’re not able to work together collaboratively for the benefit of the business, my goodness, you’re going to struggle.
We also need to ask ourselves and our people ‘What did we do in the last two months for those who are out there in crisis mode, that really, really worked? And how can we take that forward into our new world?
And how do we bring with us those people who were at home?’ The people at home were probably as stressed as us, but in different ways.
We must be engaging people to discover a new, more powerful and flexible way of working: involve, involve, involve, to understand what that flexible working pattern looks like, and make it work for the business.
The pandemic as a catalyst for changing the way we do business
Bob Gibbon There is not just a need, but an opportunity for a major shift in how manufacturers do business. The last 10-15 years of Gallup polls say less than 25%people are engaged at work. Let’s wake up.
Let’s understand how we do engage people. Something hasn’t been working. Here’s a nice, big jolt. Let’s see what we can do with it.
George Efthimiou Bob’s right, it’s not only now is the right time, I think it is the only time. The pandemic has created a need for change, and whether an organisation wants to or not, it will be forced to.
Nobody likes change, we are creatures of habit. But the only constant in the world we’re currently living in is change, and so we really need to adapt and embrace it.
That means using new technology and new processes to facilitate increasing productivity, better relationships with employees, and ultimately deliver what we all fundamentally want, which is a better, more healthy and safer environment in which to live and work.
There have got to be new ways of thinking. VentilatorChallengeUK showed that companies who are normally competitors have come together for a common cause. Perhaps we need to examine this and say, ‘Yes we can be competitors but there’ll be elements of working together that might benefit everybody’.
These will be the interesting conversations, helping to increase productivity, and once you get that, then obviously you’ve got more interesting work generally for people, as well as achieving those hard targets that are set by the shareholders of the company.
The potential legacy of VentilatorChallengeUK
Nick Peters Manufacturers have astonished themselves as much as they’ve astonished the nation with their incredible response to the need for medical equipment and PPE. What should leaders be looking to now, in order to try and turn that astonishing outpouring of, in many cases, love and a desire to help, into a practical, better future?
Bob Gibbon What’s made the difference is that there’s been a purpose that’s much bigger than you, me and everyone else.
Not every business, and not every employee thinks they’re making a difference. And yet, manufacturing makes a huge contribution to society. So, let’s remember that. Let’s bring that to the fore and let’s really get in touch with our purpose.
You mentioned the word love. Love is an underplayed word. And really the more love there is in an environment, the more tolerance there is for people, the more inclusivity there is for people. The more you engage people, the more you get out of people.
These ingredients have come to the fore: an immense amount of purpose, an immense amount of clarity, and an immense amount of collaborative spirit, premised on love of the NHS. Those are the ingredients that hugely successful businesses will harness and deploy on a day to day basis.
Fiona Anderson There are so many unknown unknowns right now. We don’t know what coming back to work will look like. Will we all be wearing masks? Will we be working? Where will we be working? What will we be doing? How will we be doing it?
Bob Gibbon I think a critical element in that is leadership, having the courage and the honesty and openness to say, we don’t know. There’s just so many dynamics at play. And just as we think we might grasp what’s going on, something will change.
So, a leader says to their people, “Please, what we want to do is share with you everything we know and invite as much contribution from you as possible. We’re in this together. We may not know where we’re going today. But we’ll be better positioned tomorrow, the day after and the day after.”
We are grateful to Hitachi Solutions for their generous support for this webinar.
You can watch the whole Recovery Toolkit series by clicking here.
You can watch this particular webinar here.
Register for future live webinars at www.themanufacturer.com/events
Fiona Anderson runs valuingYOU and My Change Expert, a consultancy that specialises in bringing out the best in workforces, improving individual performance and productivity, all informed by deep emotional intelligence.
Bob Gibbon runs The Performance Learning Company, working with companies to harmonise advances in technology with workforces, to maximise the benefit of both.
George Efthimiou manages the Hitachi Solutions commercial sales sector which includes Business Services, Retail, Supply Chain, Logistics and Manufacturing.
*All images courtesy of Shutterstock