EngagementEmployee EngagementWhy the future of the workplace is through employee wellbeing

Why the future of the workplace is through employee wellbeing

For hybrid working strategies to succeed, businesses need to understand what employees require from their employer. Personio's Cassandra Hoermann says utilising new technology to gather workforce data and feedback will be crucial to achieving this goal

Over the past two years, the world of work has faced an unpredictable shift. Increasing competition within the talent market and the need to keep abreast of adopting new hybrid working policies, has forced HR teams to re-evaluate their strategies and approach to work.

Employees now have greater leverage over their employers.  If they feel they do not have a satisfactory work/life balance, or their wellbeing needs are not being met, the likelihood of them looking for positions elsewhere have increased.

The ‘Great Resignation’, as the exodus has been dubbed, has left HR leaders with the difficult job of re-thinking how to create a successful and engaged workforce.

According to Cassandra Hoermann, head of People Experience at Personio, the pace of change has pushed organisations to use workforce analytics to drive company strategy. She also believes businesses cannot enforce the same working structures which worked pre-pandemic.

“In a hybrid set up, it is even more important to create remarkable experiences that provide the same level of engagement and collaboration as it once did. It is also important to ensure that wellbeing becomes an integrated part of the working culture,” she says.

Keeping  pace with change

According to a recent study by Personio, 90% of HR managers in European small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) report their company suffers from skills shortages, recruitment problems, or a lack of staff retention.

“Remote working does not provide the same experience as working on-site. Businesses cannot afford to continue with the same structures and lose their skilled staff because their systems and resources aren’t up to scratch,” Hoermann says.

She believes the same rule applies for building successful wellness and engagement programs in the workplace: “Businesses need to evaluate their workforce and understand which tools are going to be the most beneficial,” she adds. She notes that understanding what kind of technology can ensure a great workforce experience, will be vital.

“Whether someone is in the office or working remotely, the employee experience needs to have the same level of standard across the board,” Hoermann says.

Having a proactive approach to wellbeing

Balancing a ‘new normal’ way of working with an engaged workforce will hinge upon businesses adopting wellbeing platforms.

Hoermann notes senior leadership buy-in to these strategies will be essential to the success of these platforms. “The approach should be collaborative,” she says. “[Business executives] typically model the behaviour… so if they are on board, it is likely to have a bigger impact across the business.”

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It will also be important to ensure employees feel they can openly share their feelings through these new platforms. This will enable them to establish a genuine level of connection with their peers.

“Managers need to show empathy for individual situations in order to understand how their staff are coping,” adds Hoermann. “HR leaders should actively encourage other team members to do the same. This will help to embed meaningful collaboration and ensure that wellbeing becomes an integrated part of the company culture.”

Creating an inclusive workplace

Business leaders and HR managers know that company culture plays a significant role in the employee experience.

A Glassdoor survey found that 77% of people would consider a company’s culture before applying for a job, with 79% considering a company’s mission and purpose before applying. Several respondents also highlighted that culture is more important than salary when it comes to overall job satisfaction.

Hoermann agrees with these findings: “Now more than ever, a job is not just purely down to the salary that hits your bank account every month. It’s bigger than that. And because of this shift, employees are now looking for a greater sense of belonging, inclusivity and collaboration.”

Encouraging open communication and constant employee feedback will help business leaders gain a clear understanding of where opportunities for improvement lie. It will also help HR leaders understand the right strategy for the business, what type of investment is needed, and how these changes can be implemented in the workplace.

However, HR leaders should also recognise that creating a strong company culture requires constant improvement and adjustment. “What’s working today won’t necessarily work tomorrow,” says Hoermann.

“Each team member’s circumstances are different, and many are now looking for greater work/life balance and for more ways to feel supported by their organisation,” she explains. “Unless an organisation can point to feedback, they’re most likely not going to be able to create a full picture on their employees’ needs.”

Hoermann says businesses should try to gain an understanding of whether their employees feel supported, whether they enjoy the workplace (both in-person and virtual), and whether their senior leadership appear invested in improving the wellbeing of their employees.

“At its core, building an inclusive company culture is really about showing how the organisation cares about the individual,” she says.

Building clear communication strategies

While a hybrid working model has several advantages, it does not always mean a successful and engaged workforce. Communication is therefore an effective way to solve any issues and to understand how your workforce is operating.

“Speak to your employees. Be in constant communication with them. There’s no better source to find out what your workforce needs than by talking to them,” says Hoermann.

There are of course other options too, she says. Utilising technology will open a myriad of doors for HR teams looking to understand what the future of work looks like for their own workforce.

Not only can technology be used to increase collaboration but can also ensure all employees can feel connected.

“[Technology] can also be used as a means to gain constant and consistent feedback, such as through online surveys that help measure productivity,” Hoermann says.

What is clear is that a one-size-fits-all approach is unlikely within the current working environment. “This is where I strongly recommend that employees are the best resource to understand what’s best for the business,” Hoermann says.

“What might be the best way for another company might not necessarily match your organisation’s needs,” she explains. “[The approach] should be personalised and individual. Clear communication flows will help organisations to find out how they can really support their workforce in the best possible way.”

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