READ the June 2021 issue of our magazine: COVID-19 Rages On: Are You Ready?
A lot has been spoken of employee wellness, especially in the past months. Overnight, companies had to deal with the most rapid transformation of the workplace in modern history. While industry experts initially worried about productivity, we quickly came to realize that the transition to remote work did not hurt productivity and we adapted to the new normal. However, now companies need to think beyond productivity and look at wellness programs that foster engagement towards a more holistic people-first ethos - one that focuses on an employees’ quality of life within and outside of work.
With that context, how can companies establish a deeper connection with employees? How can companies enable people to make healthy changes and support them across that journey? What does it take to create a culture-driven, wellness-first organization? What are the primary concerns for employees today? How can companies create a culture of care at workplaces?
Building a culture-driven workplace
It is easy for HR teams to be prescriptive with their wellness initiatives - by telling employees to participate in programs, surveys and tests, but it is unclear how this approach has long-term gains for employees and organizations. Organizations need to move towards creating culture-driven wellness strategies to ensure work-life balance.
We need to go beyond corporate walls and introduce an all-encompassing outlook to wellness which focuses on mental, physical, financial and social health.
By putting people development and wellness-first initiatives at the core companies can address some of the most pressing issues of our times. Over a year into the coronavirus crisis, people are dealing with challenging, demanding and uncertain work and personal life routines and as primary caregivers companies should aspire to help their people lead more balanced lives.
So, how can companies keep employees engaged and supported during these times?
Well, well, well(ness)
Like Edward de Bono said a long time ago - “When the story of these times gets written, we want it to say that we did all we could.” 2021 has been particularly hard, so companies need to focus their energies on introducing people-first wellness initiatives. There are instances of companies stepping out during these times by rolling out free virtual therapy sessions with therapists, providing monetary assistance for work-from-home (WFH) set ups, scheduling weekly programs packed with fun and engaging activities and covering medical benefits for employees and even their immediate family members.
New WFH strategies
Organizational agility has been tested to the maximum in the past year and companies have had to keep a close eye on targeted measures to enable effective WFH strategies.
Going beyond taking care of employees - extending wellness programs to spouses and families of employees can help develop the same culture of wellness at home.
And given that the WFH model is here to stay we need to look for opportunities to support employees; after all, happy people are extremely productive, and productivity leads to revenue. Therefore, companies need to develop an effective WFH culture and mesh innovative wellness-initiatives with their culture.
Don’t resist change, instead be creative and innovative
One of the biggest changes since the onset of the pandemic has been the need to find creative ways to hire, build and upskill people. In the past year, companies have had to find innovative ways to upskill their people as some jobs became redundant because of the pandemic. In such a scenario, it is important to repurpose and upskill team members, by encouraging recruitment teams to think differently about hiring and retention. By putting in place a seamless virtual on-boarding program and creative hiring strategies, companies can actually provide fruitful candidate experiences and hire top-talent even during these challenging times.
Creating synergies and building a culture of innovation
While free lunches and open offices are exciting at first, what matters in the long-run is a culture of innovation. By challenging the team to be a part of the process of changing and shaping company goals, employees are driven towards collaborating, submitting ideas and finding solutions, from start to finish. When employees are given the space to create and explore synergies it results in new ideas which wouldn’t have seen the light of day otherwise.
Building synergies and strong relationships with colleagues helps carry forward that passion to work.
Oftentimes the answers are in plain sight; invest in people ops/ human resource teams, offer a support system which can operate on several levels, make a real impact as primary caregivers, connect with your people on a more humane level, and foster a culture of positivity within the workforce.
As employers seek ways to make wellness a cultural behaviour, the above can serve as guiding pillars to revamp organizational culture for the evolving workplace and workforce construct.