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Shifting to a home office has become the new normal for many of us as we have learned to live with the reality of COVID-19. The pandemic has caused many people to work from home for the first time, an experience that presents workers with a new set of difficulties.
Workers now need to figure out how to stay on task in an environment that may not lend itself to productivity. Those who are quarantined alone may begin to feel socially isolated as they lose the ability to interact face-to-face with colleagues, impacting morale and productivity. Those who are quarantined with children are now solely responsible for their education and entertainment, no longer being able to rely on the stability of school. On top of this, the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 makes it hard for workers to focus as minds too easily drift to dozens of what-if scenarios throughout the day.
Your home office is now your couch. The one with the big TV in front of it. Your 30-minute commute now consists of the stairs leading from your bedroom to your living room. Your coworkers are now your children, who are becoming wilier by the day. Productivity is hard to come by in this kind of environment, so what can employers do to combat the productivity perils of working from home?
As it turns out, investing in your employees’ professional development is one of the most effective things a company can do to increase productivity. In a study conducted by the National Center on the Educational Quality of the Workforce (EQW), increases in workforce education were far more effective at increasing productivity than increases in the value of equipment.
According to the Association for Talent Development (ATD), companies that offer comprehensive training programs have 218% higher income than companies without formalized training. These companies also experience a 24% higher profit margin than those who spend less on training. It would seem that putting money into employee learning and development, even during a period of economic downturn, is the smart move.
These fantastic results are the product of increased employee productivity, which is driven by skills advancement made possible by employee training and development. In a whitepaper published by IBM (IBM Training White Paper, 2008), researchers explored the long-term benefits of employee training. IBM discovered that a company with just 1,000 employees can save at least $240,000 a year as a result of an average productivity gain of just three minutes per day. That’s not all. According to a Merrill Lynch study, Motorola estimated that every dollar spent on training yielded $30 in productivity gains within three years.
Do not underestimate the power of investing in your employees’ learning and development and its effect on productivity and capital gain. Although putting money into a business during a time of economic uncertainty may seem counterintuitive, you and your company will be better off for it in the long run.
Isolation and Morale
Employees may not realize it until they’re not there, but a ton of casual collaboration happens in an office. For many of us, our jobs provide the majority of socialization we engage in on a daily basis. Whether this socialization is allowing us to pick up on best practices from a colleague, have an impromptu brainstorming session over lunch, or simply talk about the stressors we’re experiencing in our personal lives, it serves a necessary role.
During quarantine, employees are quite literally not going anywhere. Instead of traveling between work and home, employees are traveling between their kitchens and their couches. It’s easy for this sense of stagnation and inactivity to translate to feelings of not going anywhere in their careers.
Therefore, prolonged isolation can impact productivity and morale. In order to combat this, employers should engage their employees in learning and development. The opportunity to learn in new and different ways directly correlates to employee enthusiasm and inspiration while also raising the bar for performance and pushing the rest of the organization to constantly improve.
Professional development, such as engaging your employees in a language learning program, gives them something to look forward to. If employees are excited about their work, they typically put more effort into it, produce better results, and are happier in the long run.
During this time, it’s going to be easy for employees to lose their sense of worth and value. No longer in the office interacting with their bosses and colleagues, they’re unable to get a “job well done” or “nice work on that project” in the hallway. The positive culture you’ve worked so hard to cultivate will be more difficult to maintain while employees work from home.
In order to keep culture positive and morale high, make an investment in the future of your employees. A Clutch study surveyed 507 full-time employees. 22% of those surveyed said professional development is their top employment perk. Investing in your employees in this way can signal to them that you are willing to help them reach their full potential, therefore increasing employee confidence. When you have an organization full of valued individuals–in office or out–morale and productivity will soar.
Kids at Home
While some employees are facing the perils of isolation during quarantine, parents are having to cope with an entirely different set of challenges. With kids at home with social, behavioral, educational, and bodily (yes, really) needs, parents now must play the part of teacher and parent. The role that school plays in a child’s life is immeasurable. School offers, obviously, education, but also stability and predictability, socialization with peers, structured playtime, meals, bathroom breaks, access to adult role models–you name it.
The White House has called for millions of Americans to work from home and home-school their children if possible. Working from home and home-schooling are two incongruent tasks: kids at home are a huge distraction and impediment to productivity.
There exists a tool that combats both issues of employee productivity and the child in need of attention and mental stimulation. MondlyWORKS offers the solution of a free language learning app for children, allowing parents and children to learn a language side by side. Not only does MondlyWORKS solve the problem of the bored child, but the program allows parents to provide their child with attention and entertainment while also doing their job. An entertained child means less distractions for employees, therefore increasing productivity.
The app isn’t just meant to increase productivity temporarily, however. Having another person at home learning the language provides another opportunity for employees to practice their developing language skills. If employees are able to practice their skills at home, they’ll be that much better at using their language skills in a professional setting.
As humans, we’re wired to like and seek out predictability. Ramona Perkins, a licensed professional counselor, says, “If we can predict what’s coming at us we can kind of form our response. So uncertainty usually triggers anxiety.”
This fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in both adults and children. The CDC asserts that improving ourselves and our families can help us cope with that stress. Activities such as taking time to unwind and participating in activities we enjoy can reduce that stress, in addition to limiting the amount of time we spend consuming pandemic-related information.
Providing employees with learning and development opportunities can allow them a period of time during the day in which they’re able to leave the news and worry aside and focus on something they truly enjoy. Having a chunk of the eight-hour work day that they’re able to specifically set aside for professional learning and development can provide some structure to their schedules, which the CDC says can also lead to stress reduction.
Meanwhile, the WHO recommends that people in isolation stay connected to combat potential mental health issues during the pandemic. Allowing employees to begin a course at the same time while working at the same pace or enrolling employees in a collaborative course in which they’re able to work together would provide much needed interaction during a period of isolation.
MondlyWORKS Can Help
MondlyWORKS is a professional learning and development tool that can serve as a great asset to your company’s overall wellbeing during the pandemic. Learning a new language will provide your employees with something to look forward to while your investment in their growth makes them feel valued and respected. MondlyWORKS also provides a fantastic solution to working from home parents who are faced with the challenging responsibility of educating their children. MondlyWORKS’ app for kids is an activity that parents and children can do together that can become part of families’ daily routines, reintroducing a sense of stability and predictability to their schedules.
MondlyWORKS wants to help you help your employees. Email us today at email@example.com and to find out more about taking MondlyWORKS for a test drive.