Work from home opened workers across the world up to the possibility of being productive from almost anywhere. For some employees, being given agency around where they choose to work reduced stress and increased wellbeing. For others, their desire for workplace flexibility and greater autonomy has fuelled mass resignation across sectors, now known as The Great Resignation.

How can employers realistically tap into the need for more “human-centric” work models to avoid this? As a start, employers should listen to employees about workplace stressors and make adjustments where able to improve staff wellbeing and satisfaction. Four business leaders weigh in on their approach to employee well-being and stress reduction in the workspace.

Skills training for valued employees:
Skills training is an important signifier that an employer is thinking of an individual’s future employment prospects and career growth. Research shows that employees who receive skills training in the workplace are more likely to become more confident in their roles, and contribute more because of this. Workplace skills training company, Lorman reports a 30 -50% rise in employee retention rates for companies with strong learning cultures.

When the Radisson Hotel Group faced lockdown during the pandemic, they used the time to provide team members with skills training in the absence of a busy travel industry, says Tim Cordon, Senior Area Vice President Middle East & Africa for Radisson Hotel Group.

As a group that acknowledges that its success relies heavily on its employees, Radisson invests significant time in selecting and developing team members, then empowering them with the correct tools to get on with their jobs.“

”If you don’t have a team to deliver the experiences and create those unforgettable moments for your guests, you don’t have a hotel – you only have a building,” says Tim.

Understanding which staff members need what type of training could entail observing which tasks different members of staff volunteer to do over others, or monitoring their performance over various areas and seeing where there might be areas for more learning.

Radisson provides rigorous training for staff each month through its Radisson Academy as well as online hospitality training through a programme called Typsy. Staff also have a dedicated line called LifeAssist whereby they can connect with a doctor, therapist or counsellor.

Listening in for holistic well-being:
Listening to staff about their stress levels, life stressors and need for time off is key in fostering well-being, lowering stress levels and helping to improve their mental health, says Irvine Partners Managing Director, Hayley van der Woude.

“With employees still working remotely, it can be hard to spot signs that someone is struggling with stress and that their mental health is suffering. Check in with your team regularly and communicate more than you think you need to. If someone tells you they’re battling to cope, take time to listen to how they’re doing and show compassion,” she says.

“Ask questions about what support they require. Sometimes staff simply want a sounding board, or the chance to explain that a situation is sapping their strength. Recognising this, we’ve introduced a service for our teams offering mental health counselling for anyone in need of an external professional to talk to. It’s offered free of charge to staff and in a confidential manner.”

Comfort at the office:
A big factor behind why some staff prefer working from home is comfort, from the kind of seat they enjoy to the area they like to sit in while working. And while employers might not be able to offer seating and colour schemes suited to each employee’s preferences, making the office a more comfortable place by listening to what employees enjoy about working from home could be a start.

“Ensure that employees have reliable equipment, be it a suitable laptop or desktop, as well as sufficient air conditioning for a temperate working environment. Staff with access to appropriate office equipment are less likely to need sick leave to recover from strain or injury,” says Teljoy CEO, Jonathan Hurvitz. “It’s important to help staff acquire the equipment they need to do their jobs effectively and with as little stress as possible.” Teljoy offers a range of office equipment and furniture on month-to-month contracts to suit an employee’s needs.

The idea of eliminating stress related to furniture and equipment both in and out of the office, fosters a culture of flexibility and understanding that wherever employees are, employers are helping to make sure that care is dedicated to their work needs.

Fostering flexible environment to drive equality:
The change to working at home provided unforeseen benefits for many people. Some realised they were able to save money without petrol costs related to the daily commute to the office. For parents, the change gave them more time with their children while still delivering on their work. Circumstances are different for each employee and recognising this and factoring flexibility into work culture will help to deliver the human-centric company culture that fosters employee satisfaction.

“Employee experience is more than just after-work cocktails or communal lunches. Employers now have the potential to create an even better environment that fosters connection, allows employees to achieve the best work-life balance, and promotes equality. This will lead to more innovation and better work performance,” says Zuko Mdwaba, Area Vice President at Salesforce South Africa.

Flexibility in the workplace is essential. “At Salesforce, we believe in giving individuals the freedom to work on their own schedules and giving them flexible options to help them be more productive,” Mdwaba explains.

Create an environment where employees can flourish
Looking after your employees is about looking after your business, says Aisha Pandor, CEO and Co-founder of home service company,  SweepSouth. “People who enjoy their jobs are more likely to stay, helping you to retain star employees and decrease turnover. On the flipside, losing employees costs the company money, as hiring, training, and onboarding new employees is a time-consuming, expensive process.”

To create the right atmosphere for teams to flourish, Pandor advises shaping a work environment that promotes trust and a feeling of safety – where cooperation and teamwork are encouraged and responsible freedom is allowed.

Fostering a strong company culture will also help to promote a feeling of enhanced trust and cooperation between employees and bosses, with people more likely to enjoy work when their needs and values are consistent with the company’s, adds Pandor. “One of the ways we achieve this is through team members being able to nominate a colleague to be a SweepSouth Values Hero for a week, an employee who embodies the company’s values of delivering quality work and being respectful, innovative, flexible and trustworthy.”

Flexibility, communication, and human-centric thinking geared towards the well-being of your employers will do wonders for improving your company culture and employee retention in the long run.

Submitted by Irvine Partners