Over the last few years, organisations across the world were compelled to embrace radical changes and adopt practices that prioritise employee wellbeing. Empathy and kindness are not just niceties anymore, but essential to employee welfare. As we embrace a new era of work culture with flexible and hybrid models at the core, it will be extremely critical to build a robust and healthy workforce that is resilient and prepared for the challenges that the world is experiencing today, from economic turbulence to rapid climate change. Workforce reductions and a conservative approach to growth are being seen across technology organisations and other sectors, again directly impacting an employee’s sense of security and outlook for the future.
While the world may have snapped back into action in full swing, it is important to be mindful of the sensitive and incomprehensible times that human beings have navigated these past few years and its long term impact. A successful and flourishing organisation is one where demonstrating empathy and building resilience go hand-in-hand. HR teams play a key role in supporting leaders nurture a physically and psychologically safe and supportive work environment. Self care and wellness will become central to any organisation’s employment value proposition, through various business cycles. Education and avenues to further financial, spiritual, physical and mental wellness will help organisations build a resilient workforce for the future.
Here are some important things to keep in mind to support employees readjust to the new age work culture:
Flexibility will continue to be king
While a flexible and collaborative work culture started gaining prominence some time back, the pandemic was a pivotal point for its widespread acknowledgement and acceptance. Flexible workspaces allowed business to be agile while also allowing employees to experience a sense of community when they needed it the most. According to the EY 2022 Work Reimagined Survey, with the continuing shift towards flexible working models, 27% of employees want to work remotely for less than five days a week whereas 53% of employees want employers to provide them with the ability to work from anywhere. As we move forward, the core qualities of a flexible work culture, ie, community, collaboration and convenience will continue to be important.
Employees should feel safe, supported and cared
The experiences of the last few years serve as a reminder for us to come together in solidarity. The sheer number of organisation-led humanitarian efforts during the pandemic serves as a benchmark of goodwill and should continue to inspire employers. Ensuring that employees feel safe and supported at all times, and being cognizant of their constraints and hardships will be a key factor in the long-term success of any business. Counselling support and outplacement services will continue to play a key role when organisations are compelled to do layoffs. It is no secret that a healthy and happy workspace leads to greater productivity and supporting employees by offering them security and flexibility with new work arrangements will only foster greater trust, deeper engagement, and improved efficiency.
Intentional wellness programmes and practices
Within a single year, working models of companies have changed drastically from full time work from home to hybrid and flexible models. In such times of change, it is important to stabilise into a routine and create opportunities for employees to feel centred again. This can be done in many different ways but it has to be intentional, be it creating simple routines for mindfulness, building connections with coworkers, or wellness breaks. For example, companies like WeWork India and a few others offered long festive breaks to employees so they rejuvenate themselves by spending some quality time with their loved ones or even go on that solo backpacking trip.
Amplify the power of 1:1 support
The pandemic thrust us into a vortex of an always-on and virtual way of working. While it is imperative for organisations to be compassionate and allow employees to re-adjust, nurturing individuals to find balance in a new hybrid culture is very important. There is power and great learning in working side by side and managers should ensure that they are creating an environment where employees are provided personalised one on one support and help. There is no one size fits all approach to coaching team members or management and 1:1 meetings are crucial to understand each individual’s unique drivers, aspirations and needs. Employee engagement surveys show that teams where regular 1:1s take place between managers and team members, report relatively higher engagement scores.
A culture of open communication, trust and empathy will help set the roadmap for a seamless hybrid transition. This will in turn allow employees to grow and achieve their full potential in the new world of work and to navigate through the complex and uncertain external environment. A focus on wellness ultimately helps organisations realise their goals, while empowering people to become their best selves.