Employee happiness during work from home


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Happy employees bring higher productivity and increased innovation to the table.

And while actively engaging them is one of the ways to keep them happy, the social isolation in a lockdown poses some serious threats to this method. How can companies still retain a positive mindset in their employees through virtual engagement? Devic Earth shares some ideas.


Employee happiness, better engagement, and work from home – how are they linked?


If you are reading this right now, chances are you are locked indoors, wanting to find some semblance of normalcy in these current times. In other words, you are, like most of us, trying to keep yourself engaged.


Have you ever wondered why we do this – constantly trying to keep ourselves engaged?


Apparently, active engagement takes our mind off the future and the past and makes us live in the present- and that is a recipe for happiness.


According to Forbes magazine-

“Employee engagement was identified as the need of the hour – the mantra to attain, maintain, and retain the perfect employee. The numbers were glaring – about 87% of employees across the globe were reported to be not engaged, organizations with lesser engaged employees realized that they were at a 147% disadvantage as compared to their more engaged competitors.”[1]


This concept was extensively explored by Hawthorne in 1929, who proved that employee performance is as much influenced by their surroundings and the people they work with as their own capabilities [2].


Apparently, motivated employees demonstrate enhanced productivity, thereby directly affecting revenues and bottom line.


Actively engaged employees are often happy employees and unencumbered by negative emotions, they feel free to express, and more importantly, to innovate. Happiness not only presupposes active absorption, involvement, and participation, but also an innate feeling of being fulfilled.

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How has Work from Home (WFH) impacted employee engagement?


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With the emergence of COVID-19, the paradigm of employee engagement has shifted from a physical setting to a virtual setting. While WFH was a potentially anticipated trend over the coming years for many businesses worldwide, the emergence of Coronavirus appears to have accelerated the transition from the office to a home workspace.


However, working from home gives rise to certain challenges pertaining to employee productivity, satisfaction, physical and mental health.


This is because a lack of social interaction may induce feelings of:

  • Loneliness and isolation

  • Anxiety and stress

  • Depression


The percentage of people classified as lonely increased from 54% in 2018 to 61% in 2019, according to a report commissioned by the insurer Cigna [3].


Since loneliness can compromise both mental and physical health, it has grave implications for employees especially during a total lockdown. Prolonged periods of lockdown can lead to a reduction in productivity, limiting individual and team performance, and decision-making.


WFH can also give rise to anxiety and stress since it forces people to wear multiple hats.


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While working in the office, there is a physical separation between the office and personal space. However, the lines between personal time and work time are getting blurred due to the lockdown. The need to be super-responsive to “prove” that you are working can lead to an increase in fatigue, health problems, and a higher turnover rate.


Depression alone costs employers an estimated $44 billion each year in lost productivity[4]. Studies have linked depression to forgetfulness, indecisiveness, and reduced concentration levels[5]. Turns out, reduced levels of interactions among employees, combined with social isolation are significant contributors to depression.


Thus, businesses need to come up with innovative ways to overcome the challenges of a WFH paradigm. While some businesses may be well-prepared for a widespread shift from an office environment to a home setting, smaller companies may have to demonstrate an unnatural level of agility to accommodate a WFH work ethic.

How to wear a mask?

How does Devic Earth encourage employee happiness?


As a start-up, we wanted to ensure that our employees stayed motivated and positive during these challenging times. Here are some of the measures we have taken towards team engagement:

  • Day’s schedule: Stand up meetings of each team at the start and end of the day with the respective section heads are occasions for team members to discuss the progress of their work and address challenges if any. This helps alleviate employee anxieties.

  • Upskilling oneself: Learning is key to one’s motivation and positivity. Devic Earth has given an opportunity for each employee to upgrade his/her skills through online courses that are relevant to their specific needs. At the completion of each course, they are awarded a gift certificate to appreciate their efforts and spur them on to learn further.

  • Employees’ weekly catch-up with the CEO: Team meetings engage all the employees and showcase the work accomplished. Every employee gets an opportunity to express himself/herself during these sessions, ensuring that everybody feels included and engaged with.

  • Workshops and webinars have enabled all employees to participate and share ideas on a common platform.

  • Consistent and clear communication on a regular basis with the entire team on our current status and the way forward has helped in transparency and proactive engagement.

  • For some light-hearted events, we have virtual get-togethers like Chat and Chai events, and weekly book club discussions.


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On the initial relaxation of the lockdown, we conducted a survey to find out how motivated we were as a team, and we are proud to say that:

  • 99% of the employees are motivated to work, and

  • 80% of the employees are able to maintain a work-life balance.

The feedback has been extremely positive with respect to team dynamics, company culture, and direction at work. This is a great validation that as a team we have come out stronger and with a positive frame of mind despite these difficult times.


We hope this success serves as a pointer for other businesses who, like us, can innovate to adapt and rise above the current crisis.


References:

1. https://www.forbesindia.com/blog/the-good-company/beyond-engagement-decoding-happiness-at-work/

2. Hawthorne Effect: https://www.businessmanager.in/the-hawthorne-effect-a-precursor-to-employee-productivity.php, Author: Dr. Anupriyo Mallick, April 2018

3. https://www.cigna.com/static/www-cigna-com/docs/about-us/newsroom/studies-and-reports/combatting-loneliness/cigna-2020-loneliness-report.pdf

4. http://www.workplacementalhealth.org/Mental-Health-Topics/Depression

5.https://www.sacap.edu.za/blog/management-leadership/impact-of-depression/



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