Leaders have a lot on their plate. They are under pressure to deliver results in a challenging economy while managing operations fueled by some combination of hybrid, remote and/or in-house employees. It can be a tricky transition that affects culture and communication. But new research from Microsoft reveals tangible ways leaders can bridge disconnects and enable a positive, productive workforce.
Microsoft Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella says that employee experience is the game changer. “Thriving employees are what will give organizations a competitive advantage in today’s dynamic economic environment,” he said in the WTI Pulse Report.
Leaders can create alignment with a few suggested shifts. Here are three to try according to Microsoft’s Work Trend Index report.
1. Reprioritize: Focus on Results Instead of Work Produced
In March, Microsoft announced a 153 percent increase in Microsoft Teams meetings. Double bookings were up by 46 percent. Despite this activity, many leaders are unsure of hybrid work’s value. More than 85 percent aren’t confident in employees’ productivity—especially when they are working off-site.
But what restores confidence is results. How to get them? The answer isn’t more work, it’s getting more specific about:
- The goal the team is striving to accomplish.
- How the work conducted on an individual and team level supports a company goal.
- Identifying work that isn’t essential or tied to a goal or mission.
- Finding more efficient ways of working, including implementing automations and workflows.
Ongoing communication is definitely part of this pivot. Platforms like Microsoft Teams act as a communications centralizer. It’s one tool that can help leaders get and receive feedback quickly. It also gives co-workers the means to collaborate and feel included—especially in roles that can feel siloed, like IT support.
Microsoft Teams can also centralize critical business functions, including service desk operations, and enable collaboration, visibility and productivity.
Another thing that supports productivity: process automation. There are often repetitive and mundane steps in any job that can be made more efficient. For non-tech savvy workers, Power Automate offers liberating support, guidance and ideas on how to simplify workflows. For departments like IT, Power Automate’s impact on service desk workflows can be dynamic, supporting the entire organization’s ability to maintain productivity.
2. Create Time for Building Relationships
Employees aren’t motivated to go to the office just because they are being called back. In fact, 73 percent of employees said they need “a better reason to go to the office than just company expectations.”
The promise of social interaction with peers, however, is attractive and considered worth the trip. For leaders, a smart play is to plan in-person time with a team-bonding or team-building component.
This bonding can—and should—extend to online spaces where hybrid and remote workers are likely to live. A weekly game or fun online activity can give employees a chance to take time out, interact and build relationships beyond their immediate team.
These interactions can carry over into Microsoft Teams chats and groups, where employees can see and speak to peers easily and maintain an open dialogue.
3. Support Learning and Growth Opportunities
Despite all of the buzz about The Great Resignation, feeling valued and included are motivators for employees to stay put. Also key: employees ranked learning and opportunity to grow as the #1 driver of a great work culture. According to the report, “76 percent of employees say they’d stay at their company longer if they could benefit more from learning and development support.”
It’s a mutually beneficial situation.
Leaders can futureproof against a shrinking talent pool by investing in learning and development programs and proactively grooming employees for higher-level positions. It’s a practice well worth implementing, given the cost of replacing employees and the loss of intellectual capital. These shifts may take time to implement, but ongoing communication with employees will go a long way toward keeping them engaged, energized and productive. Microsoft Teams can be a great support in this effort. Not only does Teams enable communication and collaboration wherever employees are working, it also gives them a quick, conversational way to get tech support. Tikit, a Microsoft 365 service desk solution, helps employees get help right in Microsoft Teams, so that they can return to work faster. Consider Tikit as part of your plan to boost engagement and productivity across your organization.