Australian companies are welcoming staff at office and slowly yet steadily bouncing back from the crisis. It's time for leaders to relook at their return to office plans and factor in multiple aspects through this transition period.
Even if businesses plan to start opening up their office doors, how do they ensure employee health and safety? How do they manage employees who are unable to return to work in the initial days?
The return to work plan has to be more thoughtful and enable workforce productivity. As this plan is charted, the employees’ expectations must be taken into account.
The good news is that there are several solutions that leaders can utilise to connect and collaborate with their distributed and diverse workforce.
“The emergence of more focussed technology and tools that help assist in the employee experience, including onboarding, engagement, and collaboration is exciting and could not come at a better time in the employee journey,” Paula Hammond, General Manager People Experience at The Star Entertainment Group told People Matters.
Prioritising well-being for a superior employee experience (EX)
Several recent reports have highlighted employees’ preference to work for companies that care for them and their well-being.
Paula said it is reassuring to see that many workplaces realise how vital it is to incorporate employee health and wellness (including mental health) practices into their employee value propositions, and organisational strategies.
“Although many companies are gradually assuming a greater role in educating employees and assisting them in maintaining their mental and physical well-being, the greatest hurdle they’ll face in this respect will be ensuring that good intentions are not intrusive or invade their employees’ privacy,” Paula added.
In a recent interview, Paula talked about the trends shaping organisations’ EX strategy and explains how leaders can play a role in driving a 10X performance with a better employee experience.
What are your top talent priorities for 2022?
The retention of staff – for knowledge-based, skilled and operational team members will be of paramount importance as the hospitality and tourism industries jostle for talent.
The Star is also committed to continuing to build leadership capability throughout its workforce – which helps during periods of growth and transition.
As we look forward to the opening of the transformational $3.6 billion Queen’s Wharf Brisbane development in 2023, The Star will be considerably expanding its hospitality and tourism workforce. The precinct will house over 50 new bars, cafes and restaurants and four hotels so talent readiness must remain a focal point.
Economies are cautiously re-opening and the job market has begun to recover. How are you managing the ongoing uncertainties and ensuring business continuity?
The last two years have provided our team with unprecedented experience to help manage what the future may bring – even if it continues to be volatile. In this time, there have been many challenges and uncertain periods however we are excited for the hospitality and tourism industry.
The Star has prioritised reopening its hotels, restaurants and bars, entertainment facilities to operate at full capacity. We are looking to forward to borders continuing to open, and both international tourists and students returning.
As part of this focus, we have shifted towards hiring for attitude rather than aptitude, particularly for food and beverage and hospitality staff.
The Star recently opened its Food and Beverage skills centre in Sydney and launched a food and beverage training program for new team members to rapidly learn and improve their operational service skills. Since its launch in August 2021, more than 360 new team members have participated in the program.
What are some of the skills, values and strategies that will enable leaders to meaningfully transform the employee experience in 2022?
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to what HR leaders will need for the constant evolution of the employee journey.
Key factors to consider in 2022 and beyond will be prioritising the trust of employees, ensuring they have a voice and buy in to the strategic decisions being made, and being more empathetic – particularly with the ongoing impacts of the pandemic.
It will be crucial for HR leaders to utilise the data and insights they gather from our continuous listening platform to ensure their responses and actions reflect and adapt to those expectations and feedback.
Our Company Values; Welcoming, True Teamwork, Ownership and Do The Right thing will continue to guide employees decisions and behaviours.
To attract, and retain talented teams, The Star has made significant strides in ensuring we foster a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace environment. This includes expanding our parental leave policies, developing an ongoing, and impactful sustainability strategy and committing to tangible diversity targets across our workforce.
How are you leveraging technology to tackle the ongoing people and work challenges?
Over the last two years, The Star implemented a variety of technological initiatives to help team members stay informed and engaged, improve their mental health and well-being, and continue to work on their skills and training.
The employee engagement platform was rolled out to provide team members with an opportunity to give regular feedback across a variety of topics, help our business identify gaps and allow leaders to respond in a quick and effective manner. Powered by Peakon, the platform builds on The Star’s previous pulse checks and employee surveys, with more robust insights, benchmarks, and insights.
Further, an online mental health platform ‘Unmind’ was made available to our workforce in 2021. The digital platform provides team members with a clinically validated index to give them a robust measure of their mental health, provide leaders with aggregated and anonymous insights to help identify potential problem areas and to ‘temperature check’ teams. Team members also have access to more than 300 ‘in-the-moment’ tools – including sleep, meditation, mindfulness and yoga - that help promote positive mental health in the immediate-to-short terms.
Lastly, we pivoted how we delivered our training modules to from face-to-face to online and digital formats. The virtual micro-learning sessions proved to be incredibly popular among team members as they could easily be accessed remotely, in their own time, and at their own pace.
How do you think the role of HR will evolve in this new year?
The HR role will continue a shift towards understanding and supporting team members’ needs; engagement and retention and evolve from its more traditional transactional and compliance roles.
As the HR function essentially designs, manages, and adapts the employee experience, it needs to ensure it acts as an employee advocate to senior leaders, the C-Suite and Board.
With their deep operating knowledge and people insights, HR can influence many factors of the employee journey, how employees experience the organisation and ultimately a successful future for their companies.