Online leadership, motivation and connection at Proximus
Published on 17/06/2021 in Inspire
How does Proximus support managers in keeping employees remotely motivated? How do they ensure that everyone continues to feel connected to the company? We asked Proximus HR Manager Wellbeing & Engagement Erica Baetslé.
Personal attention, connection and empowerment
Now that employees are working from home more, there is a greater need for a different form of leadership, with more attention paid to the individual. As a manager, you need to ensure that team members do not end up isolated and you have to make sure everyone stays connected. That includes employees that normally would require less of your attention.
Erica Baetslé: "A culture of trust and empowerment is essential when managing remotely, just as it is important to show that their efforts are appreciated. This does not prevent you from making clear agreements about expectations and instilling trust to equip your team to work autonomously and to achieve results. The focus now is more on the results and learning to let go."
To maintain motivation, Proximus communicates frequently and transparently, paying attention to the person behind the employee. "Every Friday, our CEO Guillaume Boutin takes time to communicate very empathetically with all employees," Erica explained.
"As part of that, he pays attention to the achievements of our organization, expresses appreciation for all the efforts made by everyone and reflects on the challenges that COVID-19 brings. With our ‘Speak Up’ engagement survey, we also regularly measure the engagement and motivation of our employees. We gear our initiatives to what they signal. In addition, each team creates its own action plan with areas for improvement important to them."
We put in breaks where everyone can get away from the screen and recharge their batteries.
Erica Baetslé, HR Manager Wellbeing & Engagement at Proximus
An employee who works from home every day often loses connection with the workplace. How does Proximus solve this? "To maintain that connection, we encourage various connect initiatives. For example, `digital coffee´ moments with the team and among colleagues. Our senior managers also organize digital meeting moments for which anyone can register. These online sessions are very successful: our senior management is accessible to everyone and the threshold to attend them is lower. Managers also organize such moments for fellow technicians. In addition, they regularly schedule informal visits in the field and can be reached via WhatsApp and mobile phone."
Team Connect kit
"From HR we also encourage our managers to organize digital team-buildings, such as online gaming, cooking or exercising together. We are constantly expanding the range of activities. The most recent expansion is our various wellness activities, such as challenges to exercise together. Those who participate can cycle, walk or run separately to collect points for a good cause.
These activities, as well as other tips and exercises to maintain cohesion and to keep working together optimally, have been bundled in a Team Connect kit. Each employee can consult and use this kit in their team. Through our `Connect Together´ community, we encourage everyone to share their experiences and post their stories. That motivates others to organize something too and it strengthens the group feeling!"
"In order to get everyone behind our strategy, we communicate with Executive Committee members through online sessions. Each Chief then tells their story and, during break-outs, they delve deeper into their specific strategic priorities. All staff can ask questions before, during and after the sessions. The entire online event is also recorded and shared via the intranet. That way, employees who cannot attend still receive all the information and we will ensure that everyone feels connected to the Proximus strategy and understands how they can contribute themselves."
As a manager, you need to ensure that team members do not end up isolated and you have to make sure everyone stays connected. That includes employees that normally would require less of your attention.
Erica Baetslé, HR Manager Wellbeing & Engagement at Proximus
Attention to individual and collective well-being
Proximus has for a long time paid attention to the psychosocial well-being of its employees. "We sensitize them to adopt healthy habits through our wellness program 'Feel great in the new now'. With the pandemic and ongoing working from home, maintaining a healthy work-life balance is sometimes difficult. That's why we now mainly work on 'Work smarter, Connect together & Energize yourself'.
We provide tips, webinars, videos and guidance about ways to relax and a smarter meeting culture. In addition, meetings set to last one hour, for example, are only allowed to take 50 minutes, and half-hour meetings 25 minutes. That way, we create short breaks where everyone can get away from the screen and recharge their batteries."
Employees can also always turn to social consultants and prevention advisers for a personal discussion if they are experiencing difficulties. This also applies to the people in the field, because not every employee works from home and they too sometimes have a hard time. "Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have also been reachable via a dedicated 0800 number and have a mailbox that is constantly monitored," Erica added.
Advice for struggling employees
Working from home is not a bed of roses for all employees. "They are advised to create smart and healthy habits when working on their own and collective resilience. For example, by not scheduling meetings in the evening or during the afternoon and to reserve `focus time´ each day to work on your own priorities and tasks. We also provide practical advice to our managers on how they can support their team members in this, through their own community on the intranet and our HR colleagues."
How does hybrid working affect your relationship with your employees? Prof. Marijke Verbruggen of KU Leuven explains.
The same comfort at home as in the office
"We also bring the comforts of the office to everyone's home as best we can. Each employee receives a laptop with the digital tools that allow them to work together efficiently from a distance and there are, of course, special rates for internet at home. To make the home office as pleasant and ergonomic as possible, employees can request an extra mouse, keyboard and screen. Home comfort will continue to be important in the future, as the new work regulations provide for everyone to work from home for three days; one day more than in the previous work regulations."
Workplace of the future
What about the empty offices, now that working from home is the new normal? "Choosing the right workplace is also choosing to work smarter. You choose your workplace according to your activity. This can be at home, or in a satellite office close to home. The main office becomes a meeting-place or a place to creatively collaborate and stay connected to both the team and the company. Regularly going to the office is therefore still very important. So workplaces and meeting rooms will have to be redesigned."
"Creating new habits, such as reserving a workplace, flex desks and a clean desk policy are part of this. These habits must not be taken for granted. So there will be new guidelines, but with room for specific agreements within each team, because everyone is different. This change will be gradual and there must be a good reason for coming back to the office," Erica concluded.