By Ryan Demaray, Managing Director SMB EMEA
Employees are the lifeblood of every business, but they can’t do their best work if they don’t feel supported by their employer. A recent study from SAP Concur investigating how employees in EMEA had adapted to working from home, found that under half (40%) felt they were unprepared to do so prior to the coronavirus outbreak. For many SMBs, enabling remote working during these uncertain times, has been a necessity. However, without the comradery of the office or benefits that come with being in a physical location as a team, many businesses can struggle to maintain a positive and productive environment for their employees. From the tools and software employers provide, to rethinking the traditional perks that came with being in an office, SMBs need to evaluate how they shape the employee experience to ensure employees continue to thrive in this new way of working.
The right tools for the job
Fostering the type of environment your employees thrive in is much easier when the right technology is part of the mix. By utilising tools that help employees do the heavy lifting, such as administrative or data entry tasks, your staff’s time can be better spent doing meaningful work, rather than busy work.
Employees will no longer have to field calls from vendors looking for overdue invoices, so will be able to have a more proactive conversation. If the data is automatically entered into the system, they can spend time discussing how best to reduce costs or streamlines vendors. This is a much more positive conversation to be having.
Here are a few tips for businesses on how to shape a better experience for employees beyond the walls of the office:
- Invest in tools that enable collaboration easily – For some SMBs investing in cloud-based technologies such as Zoom and Slack to help employees communicate can seem like an expensive outlay. However, these types of technologies can not only help create more communication and collaborative teams but also help eliminate and limit document version control – which can be costly on employee’s time. By allowing more than one person at a time to work on a document, employees are able to recreate the collaborative office environment.
- Make it a priority to solve pain points – According to recent research commissioned by SAP Concur, there are a set of common challenges employees face when working remotely. These tend to be IT/tech related and include; not being equipped with the right technology and issues with program compatibility with their work computers. Employees also express general confusion around company expense policies, with policies out of date and not accounting for expenses of setting up a home office, with only 17 percent of employees reporting feeling informed on how to handle office expenses. By investing in tools that not only help employees claim expenses back easily, but also provide clear guidance on policies around this, businesses can gain visibility on costs and plan ahead to ensure their staff have all they need to do their job well at home.
- Give employees apps they want to use – Sense the advent of smartphones, there has been a continuing blurring of home and work life, driving expectations from employees for work applications that deliver a consumer-like experience. With more employees accessing work apps outside of the office, applications are expected to be easy-to-use, quick and intuitive. For example, the SAP Concur mobile app was designed specifically with the idea of ensuring employees could manage their expenses and travel more easily. No longer is it necessary to keep all your paper receipts or worry you that you lost a receipt when it came to inputting your expenses at the end of the month. Integrating with users mobile phone camera, employees can take a snap of a picture of the receipt and attach it to an expense report, which can be submitted through the app. Invoices also can easily be viewed and approved through the app. The streamlined UI gives employees a clean, consumer-friendly experience that makes a once tedious process simple and hassle-free.
- Create a feedback loop with employees – Work environments are fluid and can change as workloads fluctuate or external factors extend into employees’ work lives. The pandemic has led to work environments being in a constant state of flux this year. Although much of the transitions to working remotely have been business decisions driven from the top down, it is important for employers to not ignore the thoughts of their staff members during this period. Creating dedicated moments in time for employees to provide feedback and discuss the challenges they face, will not only support leadership, but will highlight any productivity challenges to help improve employee well-being and engagement.
Delivering on productivity
The consequence of a bad employee experience can add up, resulting in lower productivity, high employee turnover, and increased costs. SMBs are at a tipping point, pushing by uncertainties out of their control in the wake of COVID-19. However, by implementing the right technologies and tools for employees working remotely, businesses can take a big step toward achieving a more satisfied workforce.