Warmth, sensitivity and flexibility key to creating moments of truth, say HR leaders
What makes employees fall in love with their jobs? Pre-pandemic, most would have equated job satisfaction with better compensation, benefits and rewards, but that isn’t the case anymore. Today, employees want to have a work-life balance, a job that helps them explore different avenues, in an organisation that contributes towards making this world a better place.
HR leaders across the globe are emphasising on creating magic moments, crucial to driving employee experience, resulting in better productivity and efficiency, healthier relationships among peers, with employees going above and beyond to take their organisations to greater heights.
Speaking at a session of People Matters EX India Conference, 2022, Dhanashree Thakkar, vice-president HR, Bharti AXA Life Insurance, and Priti Singh, senior vice-president HR (South Asia), Mastercard, revealed how they are bringing back the human touch and engagement for those working remotely, the need for drawing strategies for an all-inclusive workforce, and understanding what employees are going through, not just professionally but personally as well, to address any grievances or issues pertaining to their overall wellbeing.
Listening to employees is critical to business success
Speaking at the session, Singh quoted American poet Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” to reflect upon the unique moments an employee holds dear in his/her heart during their tenure. While organisations are adapting to the new normal, ‘listening’ has emerged as an essential ingredient contributing to the success of a business.
Employees need to feel that they are heard, especially while working in isolation, so they remain resilient and productive. Hence, HR leaders should make smarter and impactful investments to create these personalised moments of truth for their employees.
The creation of these moments might begin during recruitment, but it encompasses onboarding, upskilling, milestones, rewards, grievances and role-elevation. For Singh, it was all about ensuring that the organisation provides its employees with the right tools and technology that can help them collaborate better, while also fostering employee productivity and organisational agility.
Respect boundaries in hybrid work to avert burn-out
Echoing similar sentiments, Thakkar shared that connecting with an employee, as you would with a new family member, is the key. That means how you welcome the new employee to the organisation, guiding them on a day-to-day basis and being available in their time of need. In a hybrid-work environment, warmth and sensitivity are necessary for employees to feel valued. Shedding light on work-life balance and mental health that have taken precedence during the pandemic, Thakkar was of the opinion that respecting boundaries is crucial, so employees don’t feel fatigued, exhausted or burned out.
Not just employees, but managers too are facing a frustrating time. With new joiners, and half the employees in office while the other half is working remotely, there is a need to reach out, coach and develop them, while keeping in mind the virtual set-up. She shared how the situation has caused an increase in anxiety levels among her peers, which is why mental health and wellness support programmes are much more important today. Building on the emotional awareness, communication and transparency among managers so they are able to understand their employees and appreciate them, could be the factors that help retain employees in the long-run.
Creating great EX, and measuring the impact
So, how does one begin to build employee experience strategies? Singh felt that one needs to put themselves in the employee’s shoes and ask: What are the questions that employees ask themselves throughout their journey in an organisation. With an exodus of employees who are constantly overwhelmed with what work means to them today, organisations have to offer excellent employee experience, taking personal, professional, financial and emotional needs and feelings into account. Since most of the employees are working remotely, one has to focus on family-building programmes, that take into consideration time-offs for new parents, paternity and maternity leave, surrogacy and adoption.
After introducing the initiatives to drive employee experience, organisations should focus on measuring the impact so as to better capture insights for further improvement. Singh classified the engagement index into three parts: Employee wellbeing, work-related deliverables in the market, and contributing towards the community. While the first two aspects are implemented in most organisations, more and more employees today are looking at how their organisation is making a difference to the society at large.
Needed - a mindset change
On one word of advice for HR leaders to create these pillars of connection, inclusion and collaboration in an organisation, Thakkar said that there is a need to change our mindset. For instance, when we scan a CV, we should look at experience collectively rather than the tenure of work. In the hybrid-work model, we have different employee groups, work hours and situations, so it is a bit of a challenge at policy and managerial levels to create unique and personalised moments for everyone, because one size doesn’t fit all.