Being visible, known and a leader comes naturally to many people in the workplace – they know everyone, are often chosen to head up projects and are the ones people go to for advice. Others choose to be (or are kept) in the background, or like a lower-key presence because of personality, culture or experience, but this might mean they are not valued or recognised at work.
It is difficult to accurately measure employee visibility and its impact although thoughtful intentional data collection including 360-degree feedback is helpful. What is known is that employee visibility positively affects team cohesion, personal work identity, engagement and everyday interactions.
Do we have to work a bit harder to be seen if we are working from home?
There is a direct relationship between receiving acknowledgement, feeling involved, seen and valued, with our desire to contribute and embrace our job role and responsibilities. According to a study conducted in 2019 by Bonusly, 84% of highly engaged employees were recognised for their achievements at work compared to only 25% of actively disengaged employees.
Has WFH affected how visible employees are?
The shift towards remote or hybrid working has inevitably altered our office working environment. Many businesses have moved from face-to-face meetings, reviews and board meetings to online platforms. So do we need to go into the office for optimum visibility and if so how often, or can we work from home full-time and maintain the same level of visibility? Do we have to work a bit harder to be seen if we are working from home?
The answer of course lies in the knowledge that actual visibility in the office is not a sign of productivity or engagement and quality employee visibility comes primarily from a good working culture and effective, empathetic team leaders. It is also worth noting that we are still adapting and getting used to the new ways of working so it might still be a case of watching this space. How can companies ensure they are ‘seeing’ their employees without micromanaging them and how can workers improve their visibility with our new ways of working?
How can employees resolve visibility?
Try and speak up and respectfully share your opinion
Different perspectives matter. Put yourself out there, stretch yourself a little and ask for exposure to work with decision-makers. Develop rapport by actively engaging on video calls and looking at body language and facial expressions for further clues. Equally, be aware of your own. This will be easier for some (most likely the extroverts) than others (the introverts) but learning comes with stretch.
Truly believe in yourself
You don’t need to shout it from the rooftops but ensure that you’re fulfilling personal development goals and actively seek opportunities that will enhance your visibility, even modestly. Offer up your skill set to help on different projects. Try and avoid becoming too comfortable and instead seek new challenges at work.
Acknowledge your employee’s strengths and hard work by showing them that you recognise their efforts and value their contributions to the business
Take the time to open doors to communication
It is easy to neglect the relationships held with your colleagues or your boss so you can press on with your work, but it is important to maintain open communication to ensure you’re moving in the right direction and in touch. It is also easy to become complacent with whom and what you know. Continue to network as much as you can, inside your place of work as well as with peers outside of work to stay relevant and up to date and absorb new insight and find fresh inspiration to take back to work.
Put your hand up
Representing a team is a solid way of maintaining your visibility in the wider company. It also provides you with a responsibility to keep up to date with others’ roles and progress. Where appropriate ask to be involved in key decisions and conversations to demonstrate your knowledge, expertise and willingness to contribute.
What can employers do to promote visibility?
Show your value by recognising and rewarding
Acknowledge your employee’s strengths and hard work by showing them that you recognise their efforts and value their contributions to the business.
Enable growth opportunities
Personal training and development plans give your employees a significant indication of the potential you believe they have. Keep a close eye out for leadership potential and emerging talent exposure. As well as noticing strengths, and helping colleagues to work on their weaknesses as part of their growth plans.
Trust over doubting
Trust is complicated but the impact of it being eroded can be huge and often stems from a communication breakdown. Organisations with high levels of trust are associated with effective leadership, better collaboration, and a strong shared sense of purpose and they highly value respect. Micro-managing is the opposite of trust.
Encourage going beyond the comfort zone
Employees who may feel detached may also feel more fearful of reaching beyond their comfort zone. Make it known to your workforce that you champion well-assessed risks and allow them to research and come up with new prospects.
Adjust your attitude and how you deal with those who are not working in the office regularly
Be there for your employees
Maintaining an open line of communication is vital. In the case of WFH employees, you may rarely see colleagues in person, so arranging regular online one-to-ones is an opportunity to provide support and check up on their general well-being rather than check their levels or productivity.
Adjust to the new dynamics
Adjust your attitude and how you deal with those who are not working in the office regularly. Have a plan to ensure belonging.