How HR Can Avoid Past Work-from-Home Mistakes in Third Wave 465

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by Ankur Gautam, General Manager- Human Resources, KDS Services Private Limited

HR is placed at the core of Covid-19 mayhem, with the impact the pandemic has on the employees and the need to ensure their mental health and safety as well as the need to manage employees virtually. As leaders focus on the third wave response, HR interventions are required to keep business processes flowing efficiently.

Ankur Gautam, General Manager- Human Resources, KDS Services Private Limited

We started the new year with anxiety and anticipation for the third Covid-19 wave, which is unsurprising given that health experts had already warned us that a Covid-19 third wave pandemic is on the way. Only a few months ago, most organisations indicated that they would greet their employees back to work, but the spectre of the third wave of Covid has changed everything. In these circumstances, HR must be well prepared this time, based on the lessons learned and experiences gained during the previous two pandemic waves. The most satisfying aspect of the entire episode is that we’ve all had hybrid, remote, and work from office experiences during pandemics, depending on our job roles, and this will most likely be the third time we’ll all be working from home. In the event of a third wave of the corona pandemic, HR initiatives are required to keep business processes flowing efficiently. We’ll go over a few tactics that can help organisations survive in the face of this threat. Preparing ad hoc situation policies in advance will help your business and people understand the need and purpose for implementing them. 

As HR professionals, we must be prepared with all necessary arrangements to comply with government guidelines issued to businesses to continue operations in the event of a pandemic, where employee mental and physical health is a top priority. If the company does not yet offer health insurance, company-sponsored health plans and medical coverage for employees and their families would be good initiatives. For employees, this will be a positive step. 

Apart from this, in the last two waves of pandemics, we have experienced issues related to employees’ mental and physical distress in work from home culture. Excessive working hours and micromanagement are two major factors that have had an impact on employees’ mental and physical health in the midst of the pandemic. 

Let’s talk about “micromanagement”. Employees feel frustrated and restless whenever the term “micromanagement” enters their minds. And when it comes to their professional life, this term becomes even more stressful and distressing. Each of us has dealt with micromanagement issues at some point in our lives.

A LinkedIn survey conducted by Ankur Gautam

We cannot deny that employees encounter higher mental health concerns when they are subjected to micromanagement in the workplace as compared to other factors associated with cognitive and emotional pain. We must comprehend why and how this practice of micromanagement emerges, as well as how it may be effectively addressed in order to improve workplace experiences, particularly during the third wave of the Corona pandemic. According to a LinkedIn survey done by me, 69 percent of working professionals say that micromanagement in WFH culture has hindered their personal lives. 

Micromanagement has begun to negatively impact our personal lives, which was previously limited to workplace premises, but the current pandemic has moved our office limits to our homes. It is asserted that meeting deadlines and completing tasks on time is vital; yet, constantly following employees to find out their task details step by step may dishearten them and diminish their efficiency and output, especially in the WFH environment. 

Micromanagement induces a lack of trust and confidence in employees. Micromanagement cannot be an effective method for assessing or enhancing organisational productivity. Leaders who believe in micromanaging techniques may encounter more impediments in achieving their objectives, a higher rate of attrition, increased employee distress, and a lack of enthusiasm in work. This approach can erode your team’s confidence to achieve any objective on their own.

“Micromanagement induces a lack of trust and confidence in employees. Micromanagement cannot be an effective method for assessing or enhancing organisational productivity. Leaders who believe in micromanaging techniques may encounter more impediments in achieving their objectives, a higher rate of attrition, increased employee distress, and a lack of enthusiasm in work.”

In this working culture, employees will always seek assistance from their managers at every step; and from this point forward, employees’ own learning and skill development will come to a halt and augment turnaround time to achieve goals, as the decision to accomplish any assignment is made solely by the manager. Excessive management control will inhibit employee participation and integration of capabilities. Amid a pandemic, such a management style will exacerbate mental stress in the work-from-home culture. When your manager communicates with you via all available communication channels, such as texting, calling, or video conferencing to get an update on work assigned, especially after working hours, it aggravates stress in employees.

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Micromanagement creates more stress in the work-from-home culture by responding to frequent calls, emails, or any informal queries raised by the manager in connection with an update on any task. Managers may belittle their team members or employees by using unparliamentary slang or commenting on their personal lives because they were unable to complete a task on time, without first determining the root cause of the problem. Such leadership behaviour should not be tolerated by the organisation at all; else the workplace environment will be stressful. Accepting such negative leadership tactics can taint the organisation’s reputation and create employee dissatisfaction in the form of greater attrition rates, even if the organisation is paying high wages and other employee benefits. 

We cannot deny the fact that micromanagement builds stress over employees that affect their personal and professional life, and it has been observed that if an employee has a strenuous day at work, their personal life worsens. And such persistent issues lead to detachment from organisations, or employees start discussing negatively the culture of the organisation or any manager responsible for that. In either situation, the organisation faces challenges in terms of business operations and employee management. Nowadays, open platforms such as AmbitionBox, Glassdoor, Google review, and many more allow employees to anonymously express their opinions about current or prior employers. Indeed, on these platforms, critical criticism is regarded more seriously than positive input, as many individuals assume that favourable statements made to their firm are sponsored. Negative feedback on open forums can make the hiring process more complicated especially in the current VUCA world. 

Hence, leaders must avoid practising a micromanagement style to lead the team. Leaders must maintain faith in their team’s ability to execute any task assigned to them. They should have a detailed discussion about the goal they want to accomplish as a team, as well as their roles in it. The team should be well-informed and enlightened about the subject on which they will be working. A detailed update on the subject will enable the employees to maintain focus and comprehend their role from beginning to end. When leaders comprehend a topic in-depth with their teams and solicit feedback from them, it exhibits inclusivity and belonging to a mutual objective. Instead of micromanaging their employees, leaders must use technology-driven tools to track their progress on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis. This stored data will help organisations to accumulate various information in one place which can be used for proper assessment of employee’s performance. Implementing technology in the workplace may lessen human interaction and interference and that will aid organisations to reduce micromanagement. Apart from this, leaders should be trained to delegate responsibilities to others. They should not only be focused to get the goals completed by the team but leaders should also be given the responsibility to develop talent by trusting their capabilities.



“When leaders comprehend a topic in-depth with their teams and solicit feedback from them, it exhibits inclusivity and belonging to a mutual objective. Instead of micromanaging their employees, leaders must use technology-driven tools to track their progress on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis. This stored data will help organisations to accumulate various information in one place which can be used for proper assessment of employee’s performance.”

 

Leaders should be focused on developing talent by believing in their team’s abilities, in addition to completing team goals. In some businesses that focus on cost-cutting by investing less in people management, it is common to see leaders in such companies create work dependency on themselves by not sharing enough information with the downline team to protect their job. They do not want to face any internal threat in the form of succession planning by sharing their skills and experience with subordinates, because companies sometimes restructure their manpower planning if they discover that a junior team member can perform the same task with some additional benefits, whereas the company is paying a large sum to his/her senior for performing the same role and responsibilities.  

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And, from this point forward, micromanagement in organisations begins when leaders either believe that they are the best person for the job and that no one can match their level in the team; and if something goes wrong, he/she will be reprimanded; or the leader becomes more conscientious to keep his job. To eliminate such negative thoughts from leaders, it is the responsibility of the company to provide role clarity and individuality in the company, as well as their targets and growth.

Excessive working hours is another hot topic during the pandemic, and I believe HR and leaders should have concrete plans in place to address this issue, as it only leads to increased dissatisfaction and attrition among employees. Excessive working hours can be beneficial on occasion, but when they become routine, they have a negative impact on the employee’s personal life. 

“Working 55 hours or more per week is a serious health hazard,” says Dr. Maria Neira, Director of the World Health Organisation’s Department of Environment, Climate Change, and Health. “It’s past time for all of us. Governments, employers, and employees need to recognise that long work hours can lead to early death,” she implies.

Excessive working hours or working beyond the shift hours reduces employee productivity and causes weariness and distraction from the task. Employees require sufficient time to recover from mental and physical exhaustion. To create a pleasant workplace environment, the organisation must build an honest leadership climate on the floor. A leader must set a suitable time limit for employees to complete their assigned responsibilities, which will encourage them to finish their tasks on time and will foster a sense of fulfilment in individuals. 

Closing Thoughts

HR leaders must ensure that every employee is fully informed about their career growth plan to avoid micromanaging situations in the workplace. They should be able to execute and implement talent development plans with confidence. Designing a proper talent development plan and incorporating it into the organisation’s standing orders will allow the leader to feel more confident about the organisation’s goals and objectives, rather than fixating on verbal communication. The recruitment team should be given adequate padding in terms of TAT and workforce employing budget so that hiring is not compromised by any of these factors. 

A proper job description should be shared with the TA team for them to screen the best candidate for the position. In addition to that, new hires should be given enough time to get up to speed. New hires should be given detailed training and time to adjust to their new surroundings. Following proper hiring guidelines may reduce the need for micromanagement because the best-fit role candidate will be able to meet the manager’s expectations. 

In the wake of the pandemic, the TA team is hiring virtually and the feeling of having face-to-face interaction during onboarding, induction, and orientation is seriously lacking. Or, to put it another way, people are attempting to adjust to this new normal, but it may take some time. As a company, we must strive to create a workplace that is full of passion, enthusiasm, and people who are focused on the organisation’s goals, rather than people who are distressed, humiliated, exhausted, and directionless. 

Leaders must ensure that their employees not only appear happy at work, but that this energy carries over to their homes, and their personal lives must not suffer as a result of any of the factors mentioned above while working in a work-from-home environment.

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Ankur Gautam is the General Manager-Human Resources at KDS Services Private Limited. He is a strategic and agile human resource professional with over 16+ years of experience in leading Human Resource Business Partnering/HR Operations/HR Generalist roles in the IT/ITes, BFSI, Outdoor Media & Advertising, Conglomerate, and Management Consulting industries.

4 Comments

  1. I must say Mr. Ankur Gautam has addressed a very important point / issue in WFH culture. We should all learn from our past experiences, so that some we are menatally and intrumentally be prepared in any situation.

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