As we transitioned to the new world of working from home last year, it became clear that the issues employees faced went beyond the strength of their internet signal or the availability of anything that could serve as a desk. Employees were confronted with a variety of new stresses, ranging from emotional to psychological to financial to dread of the unknown. As businesses reopen after covid, a post-covid transition must also now be undertaken.
Our workplaces, too, were subjected to rapid digital change. Work’s future is no longer what it once was. Open kitchens, cramped meeting rooms, and congested elevators are all things of the past. Having hand sanitizer around the office isn’t enough. For a better world, space and flow must be redesigned. As the world reopens, hybrid workforces must also develop. Now is the time for a different kind of disruption: a wellness disruption that prioritizes employee well-being at work and at home as a strategic effort at the highest levels of management.
While there have been numerous variations of corporate wellness programs in the past, ranging from free yoga sessions to walking meetings to mobile health checks, they were always focused at accomplishing a commercial purpose, such as lowering sick days or healthcare expenditures, or attracting and retaining top talent. Unfortunately, and luckily, it took a pandemic to encourage managers and HR professionals to empathize with and perceive the immense stress that employees were subjected to almost overnight. Every person, from the C-suite to the front line, was affected, which is why I use the word empathize. Executives were also thrown off.
Empathy Will Be the New “Go-To” If Companies Want to Succeed
We were never really “working from home” as much as we were at home, juggling everything while attempting to work as efficiently as possible. We were now treading water in a new world of work/life merging, rather than pursuing work/life balance. Every employee was under a lot of stress and anxiety, and they are still experiencing it. There was no COVID WFH guru on hand to assist people in setting up at-home workstations and easing the psychological, emotional, and health-related repercussions of the abrupt change in how we all live and work.
Empathy must be wired throughout every firm for companies and people to succeed in this new work environment. Organizations must now become employee-centered, digital wellness firms, similar to how digital transformation has transformed every company into a technology company. By concentrating on three areas, executives can improve well-being activities in the workplace and actually become wellness organizations during the post-covid transition.
From the Top Down, Make Wellness a Business Imperative
There was no shortage of research prior to the pandemic that showed a clear correlation between employee happiness and its effect on staff recruitment, retention, productivity, and business profitability. Given the events of the last 18 months, that bond has only grown stronger.
Today, one out of every four workers says they intend to leave their employment once the pandemic is over. That’s one out of every four people! In a recent survey, 82 percent of employees said they would consider leaving their job to work for a more compassionate company. Well-being as a business pillar has become mission crucial to keeping employees and attracting top talent to fill unfilled roles and assist compete in this unique economy as more employees job shop based on human-centered benefits beyond salary.
Knowing and thinking that their organizations are committed to their well-being entails hearing and seeing it from the top levels of the organization for many employees. At its most basic level, empathy entails not only exceptional listening abilities but also the ability to experience what another person feels. When racial tensions rose during the epidemic last year, many CEOs gathered their staff for “listening sessions” to offer individuals who needed to express their thoughts a voice and for others to hear and feel those sentiments. More importantly, by providing feedback that has an impact on corporate policies and activities, these events demonstrated to employees that they matter and that they have been heard. The idea is to carry out new business activities as well.
No one was spared from the effects of these tumultuous times at any level. Senior leadership must now demonstrate to all employees that they are heard, that they matter, and that they are valued.
Personalize Well-Being at Scale Using Technology
Employees are fatigued, as seen by a brief perusal of today’s news. Over four out of ten employees think they are more burned out at work than they were a year ago. One could argue that having to do everything from home — shop, study, care for children, and work all day in front of a video screen — had its toll. Others may use more forceful language. The inability to switch off your digital connections has resulted in a great deal of tension, distraction, and dissatisfaction in general, not just at work.
Nonetheless, the pandemic had a good impact on our connection with technology. During the pandemic, technology undoubtedly saved many jobs. In today’s hybrid workplace, addressing well-being entails figuring out how to make technology work for us. We can use technology to figure out how and how often employees take breaks, how simple or difficult it is for them to use technology at home, how they are coping emotionally and physically now that they are managing work-life balance, and much more.
Conversations about these topics are crucial, as they address the lack of empathy that has plagued prior initiatives. And the only way to effectively solve these difficulties on a large scale is to use technology.
Companies want technologies that enable them to act on employee data in real time, spot trends, and resolve issues. The power of technology to give personalisation at scale, anchored first and foremost in empathy, has the potential to promote well-being. Checking in on employees entails mental, financial, and professional check-ins in addition to physical health checks. Following check-ins, it involves providing customized tools and programs, such as stress-reduction techniques, self-care coaching, financial planning advice, and more. The ultimate goal should be to consider the entire employee and tailor the experience to their specific needs.
For a Post-Covid Transition, Redefine the HR-IT Partnership
Companies must increasingly emphasize the employee experience, just as they must with the customer experience. In the haste to transition to remote work, technology was used primarily to maintain corporate continuity. Now that we’ve had time to acclimate, we require technology that is more purposeful. We need to link HR’s awareness of employee health and wellness needs with IT’s competence in connecting people with gadgets and intuitive solutions in a more deliberate way. The two should be combined to give solutions that allow them to be productive during a post-covid transition without having to do anything extra just to work and, in some situations, serve customers, partners, and other stakeholders.
We’ve seen large-scale training programs to help customer support representatives produce better client experiences. According to executives, a better employee experience leads to a better consumer experience. While the link between customer experience and revenue has long been established, emphasizing employee experience can also have an influence on revenue. Employees and wellbeing require the same level of attention. We need to assist kids in focusing on what it means to be healthy, and they can use these new technologies to do so. After all, there was no “how to live a better life manual” in those days.
Focus on Employee Experience to Increase Corporate Well-Being During Post-Covid Transition
Employees are increasingly seeking a better experience. Is it going to be with you or with someone else? Employee-centric well-being is achieved by companies that can begin to view corporate well-being through the eyes of their employees rather than through the eyes of their products.
There are essentially no limits to how businesses can respond. It could entail requiring company-wide activities such as wellness days off once or twice a month, reduced work weeks, or designing tailored wellness programs and tracking tools for each employee.
The message must come from the top, regardless of how you respond. This is the moment for a new breed of compassionate leader, one that reports to the people who make things work…every day…even during a pandemic, not just to Wall Street or traditional stakeholders. Luckily for us at Village Workspaces, are spearheading the post-covid transition as the world reopens in the Santa Monica area.