Article: Making the shift to a people-centric workplace: A call for empathy and flexibility


Making the shift to a people-centric workplace: A call for empathy and flexibility

To establish a people-centric workplace, it is critical to address the recognition gap, apply practical empathy, and provide equitable flexibility, as discussed at a recent roundtable session.
Making the shift to a people-centric workplace: A call for empathy and flexibility


In today's environment of accelerated change, the necessity of adopting a people-centric approach has reached unprecedented heights. Employees across the globe are increasingly vocal about their need for acknowledgement and understanding, and to feel their voices are heard, prompting companies to evolve accordingly.

A recent compelling roundtable conference, hosted by People Matters and O.C. Tanner, the global leader in strengthening organisational culture through meaningful employee recognition, provided a platform for industry experts and talent leaders to tackle these important topics. Russell Flint, Director Business Development, APAC, O.C. Tanner opened the discussion by drawing on the key findings from The O.C. Tanner 2024 Global Culture Report  to explore the essential transition towards a people-centric workplace. 

This gathering of influential leaders was backed by impactful testimonials and global research, highlighting the importance of prioritising employee well-being and engagement. Organisations must evolve to meet these needs, recognising them as essential for sustainable success in today's business world.

Here are some key takeaways from the session:

The recognition gap

One of the most significant revelations from the discussion was the stark recognition gap in many organisations. The O.C. Tanner 2024 Global Culture Report encompasses over 40,000 employees across 27 countries who shared testimonials illustrating a common theme: they feel unseen and unheard. 

The study revealed that despite employees' resilience, they often become scapegoats when things go wrong, receiving reprimands instead of recognition. This lack of acknowledgment has left many feeling unheard, unseen, and uncertain about their future. Experts emphasised that the need for consistent and meaningful recognition has emerged as a critical factor in enhancing employee morale and engagement.

Practical empathy: A necessity, not a luxury

Practical empathy involves genuinely understanding and addressing the emotional and psychological needs of employees. The global workplace study conducted by O.C. Tanner identified practical empathy as a cornerstone of a healthy work environment. Empathy fatigue, a phenomenon where continuous exposure to others' stress and emotions leads to emotional exhaustion, is a real challenge. Organisations must acknowledge the pain their employees endure and actively seek solutions. When leaders are empowered and educated to approach situations with genuine empathy, the odds of employee fulfilment increase by an astounding 894%.

Practical empathy is not just about listening; it's about taking meaningful action. Key attributes include focusing on the individual, seeking to understand their experiences, actively listening to learn, embracing diverse perspectives, and taking supportive action while respecting boundaries. 

“When employees feel that their leaders genuinely care about their well-being, it fosters a sense of loyalty and motivation that goes beyond mere job satisfaction”

Equitable flexibility: Balancing work and life

Many employers still operate under the misconception that employees should prioritise work above all else. However, employees increasingly demand reasonable flexibility that allows them to balance their professional responsibilities with their personal lives. It was also revealed that when employees experience a high sense of flexibility, they report feeling 12 times more appreciated. 

Equitable flexibility involves several components from the employees' perspective: leadership support, organisational support, employee empowerment, and effective time management. Employers must recognise that they are not the primary family for their employees, but understanding their unique needs and allowing space for flexibility can significantly enhance team cohesion and satisfaction.

Equitable flexibility requires support at multiple levels, from leadership, organisational structures, and employee empowerment to effective time management. 

Understanding that employees have lives outside of work and granting them the flexibility to manage their time can lead to a more dedicated and satisfied workforce. For shift-based workforces, achieving suitable flexibility poses additional challenges. However, finding the right balance and allowing for interchangeable shifts can lead to higher engagement and a sense of purpose. Occasional shift changes for engagement and team-building activities can also be both fun and effective, further enhancing the work experience.

Moving forward: Creating a people-centric workplace

The roundtable conference hosted by People Matters and O.C. Tanner underscored the vital importance of shifting to a people-centric experience in the workplace. By addressing the recognition deficit, implementing practical empathy, and ensuring equitable flexibility, organisations can create a more supportive and fulfilling environment for their employees. 

As we move forward, leaders must take these insights to heart and make tangible changes. The shift to a people-centric experience is not just about improving the workplace; it's about creating a better, more human world of work in which employees can thrive.

To learn more about building a genuinely empathetic and people-centric workplace, you can click here to read the O.C. Tanner 2024 Global Culture Report.

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Topics: Culture, #Retention, #Flexibility, #EmployeeExperience, #EmbraceEquity

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