Employee engagement is crucial to the health of the organisation in many different ways. For one, it is common knowledge that engaged employees translates to higher productivity in the workplace. At the same time, engaged employees reduces turnover rates and create a positive culture within the workplace.
It is commonplace for HR to take on the role of keeping employee engaged. After all, HR is meant to be the bridge between the organisation and its employees. However, employee engagement goes beyond merely trying to achieve full employee satisfaction. Instead, it should focus on investing in creating a valuable employee experience. And this should not be just a HR strategy but also a financial strategy as well.
Here are some reasons why employee engagement should be part of any organisation’s financial strategy
Investing in your people can be a costly matter as organisation will need to understand that drives and motivate employees. It may be compensation or offering certain rewards but either way, there are bound to be additional costs involved. In order to ensure that employees are kept engaged at work, there should be sufficient budget allocated to meet their wants and needs.
In every workplace, there are bound to be disgruntled employees. However, when it becomes too much for leaders to handle, there should be a backup plan in place. And similarly, this involves time and money. Time – whereby senior leaders and HR have to address these unhappy employees. Money – as organisations have to find ways to tackle these sudden issues that come up. On the other hand, organisations might sometime have to open their wallets for items that are not budgeted for. For instance, throwing a celebratory party for employees after winning a big project or upgrading the office facilities for employees.
For employees to value-add to the organization in the long run, senior leaders and HR have to be forward thinking as well. And this means investing in employees as part of the long term employee engagement strategy. Investing in employees could include providing more learning and career development opportunities for employees. Organisations need to set aside a budget for employees career development to ensure long-term returns.
People are the organisation’s most valuable asset and investing in employees should be part of the organisation’s overall strategy. Engaged employees will certainly bring about immense long-term positive returns.
3 Tips To Support Mental Health In The Workplace
Over the past years, our working environment has evolved to one whereby everyone is interconnected regardless of location and geography. With the advancement of technology, people become more connected to work than ever through mobile phones, tablets and laptops.
A changing work landscape undoubtedly brings about more opportunities for career development, expansion of social networks and innovation. However, the extent and rate of change coupled with the fact that a changing workplace environment does not take into account people’s mental well-being, can lead to health and mental problems. On top of that, organisational issues such as poor leadership management, long and inflexible working hours and a toxic work environment can contribute to work-related stress and mental health problems amongst employees.
Despite the efforts to build awareness around mental health issues within organisations, there is still a huge stigma surrounding mental health in the workplace. Organisations can alleviate this stigma by providing strong support and guidance to address mental health issues amongst their employees and this has to start from the top, from the leaders themselves.
Here are three leadership tips to support mental health within the workplace:
PROVIDE A SUPPORTIVE RESPONSE
For employees to open up about their mental health issues is already a challenge and the most important thing that leaders can do for them is to remain non-judgemental and supportive. Provide reassurance to employees by saying phrases such as, “I understand that it might be difficult for you and thank you for coming forward” or “thank you for confiding in me this information”. This would encourage other employees to open up and allow leaders to be able to take action and provide the necessary support to these employees.
AVOID DISCUSSING THE ISSUE
Leaders do not need to feel compelled to address and find a cure for mental illnesses. If the organisation has an employee assistance program in place, then leaders should refer the employees to that program or to the HR department. Likewise, leaders should avoid providing advice or share similar stories of other employees.
REDUCE THE STIGMA
Leaders are the people who serve as examples to employees within the organisation. As such, leaders can help to build a culture within the organisation whereby it is okay to open up about mental health issues or even any other issues that might affect an employee’s performance at work.
In every organisation, leaders are the ones who have the opportunity to create a culture that takes care of employees’ physical and mental well-being. This forms the key foundation of a productive and effective workforce.
Will Work From Home Last Forever?
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, working from home was a taboo topic in most organisations. When the pandemic forced businesses shut and employees to stay indoors in efforts to minimise the spread, working from home became the new normal.
As the world gradually came to manage the COVID-19 situation with vaccines and lockdown restrictions eased, organisations are now looking to resume business as usual. However, organisations are now faced with the big question: should employees return to office or not?
According to a survey conducted by HR consultancy firm Aon covering 248 companies in India, majority of the organisations surveyed (85%) have indicated that they were planning to work either remotely fully or partially post-pandemic. Tech companies, the likes of Google and Facebook, are ramping up their remote working policies, suggesting that the industry is de-emphasising shiny offices and fancy office perks.
There are, no doubt, plenty of positives to working remotely. For one, employees save on commuting time to the office. According to a report by Global Workplace Analytics, Sun Microsystems’ experience suggests that employees spend 60% of the commuting time they save performing work for the company. Second, offering remote work also allows organisations to expand their labour pool, which previously may be inevitably restrictive. Historically excluded talent due to location, mobility packages or candidate’s inability to relocate, can now be hired without having to be physically in the same country.
However, the road to implementing a work-from-home policy permanently also comes with its set of challengings and stumbling blocks. Countries and organisations with a lack of access to broadband, remote spaces and essential online services are likely to struggle in effectively rolling out remote working.
THE HYBRID MODEL
According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), a professional association for human resource management professionals globally, there could be greater freedom and flexibility in how, when and where people work in future. They noted that employees often want to balance workplace and family commitments with the possibility of having more options in their daily work arrangements, suggesting that a mixed or “hybrid” model can provide an effective balance for many employees.
In fact, many organisations are considering implementing a hybrid work arrangement in the post-pandemic era given the various upsides that employers and employees have gained while countries were in lockdown. A hybrid work model essentially provides employees the option of working from home several days a week and working in the office on other days.
CHALLENGES OF A HYBRID MODEL
LINKING PROMOTION WITH RECOGNITION
With some employees working from home and the rest of the team in office, it becomes difficult to track employees’ performance. How do managers determine whether an employee is truly putting in their optimal performance while working from home? Are high performing employees losing steam because of the overlap between working hours and personal team? Organisations, particularly those in the service and manufacturing industries, are still very much fixated on the idea that being physically present in office translates to a hardworking employee.
As organisations work towards adopting a hybrid working arrangement, performance management framework also needs to realign in order to recognise and reward employees fairly. Managers need to be well-equipped to manage the inevitable power differences that arise in a hybrid environment by tracking, monitoring and communicating with their subordinates periodically.
WHO DECIDES WHEN AND WHERE TO WORK?
A hybrid environment also raises questions on who decides when and where to work. A survey of 16,000 workers by audit firm Ernst & Young found that as many as nine in ten said they wanted to be able to work when and where they chose after the outbreak was over. Who is responsible for making the decision on when and where to work?
To ensure a smooth transition, the most meritocratic method is to make data-driven decisions. Organisations need to crunch their numbers and determine if their team is ready to go hybrid. Ask employees what their priorities would be if the organisation were to move to a hybrid arrangement. Seek honest and anonymous answers and use that as a foundation to decide what a hybrid future work arrangement could look like.
DIVISION OF THE TEAM
Allowing employees to decide when they want to work from home is often not random and dependent on age and family status. A Harvard Business Review found that among college graduates with young children, women want to work from home full-time almost 50% more than men.
To avoid a diversity crisis, senior management should efficiently use their office space to centrally manage when employees should come into the office. To encourage coordination, organisations should make sure that teams that often work together have at least two days of overlap in the office.
The COVID-19 pandemic has revolutionised the way organisations work today. Extensive research has shown that this new hybrid arrangement makes employees more productive and happier. However, with every new challenge, it is difficult to navigate for organisations and employees. Well-coordinated planning, coupled with periodic testing, correction. It is critical to ensure employees do not lose their workplace motivation while driving high productivity levels.