Supporting Your Staff in Challenging Times

I’ma big believer that any good business starts with good people. Success in any industry is built around people, and as a human-centred profession, recruitment is a prime example of this. We don’t deal in products but in people, and because we are people-led, operated and focused, we understand just how important it is for all organisations to make this a priority internally.

In today’s challenging environment, employee wellbeing has never been more vital. Regardless of sector, people truly are your most valuable asset, and when you believe this you will do everything you can to keep them happy and productive. This is something that I observed immediately when I started my new role as the New Zealand General Manager at Peoplebank/OCG/Chandler Macleod in late September. Not only does the business emphasise the team’swellbeing in the day to day, but they lived this out in a tangible way when they committed to not making a single redundancy amid the challenges of this year– and are now reaping major benefits as a result!

So, what can organisations do to best look after their staff and leverage the advantages of employee wellbeing for success?

Employee Wellbeing in a Tough Economy

Most industries have been impacted by the current climate and businesses will have to find ways to gain a competitive advantage. People have been through an incredibly challenging time over the past several months, and employers have a major role to play in providing them with the support they need. As with any environment, there are going to be winners and losers at the end of this period – what’s clear is that the businesses that look after their people well will be the ones that come out strongest on the other side.

4 Tips for Improving Employee Wellbeing: 1. Maintain a high standard of communication. 2. Normalise dialogue around wellness 3. Support flexibility 4. Unvest in engagement platforms

The key to successfully managing an individual’s wellbeing is making it a focus throughout the employee lifecycle. It can’t just be a footnote on your company values document – it must be something you lead with throughout every interaction you have with an employee, from when they’re on their way in, to when they’re on their way out. When it comes to hiring, there is a unique opportunity right now to target the best talent in the market, but to attract these top-tier people, employers will need to ensure their recruitment process is efficient, well-managed and respectful.

At the other end of the spectrum, the way you handle the close of your employment relationships is just as crucial. Many businesses have been forced to make difficult decisions to survive –and unfortunately, those that approach it poorly risk negative effects on engagement, productivity and potentially reputation in New Zealand’s small talent market. However, restructures and redundancies don’t have to cancel out employee wellbeing efforts. If you’re forced to exit people from your business, you still have an opportunity to lead with empathy and support them through the transition.

Practical Tips for Improving Employee Wellbeing

Employee wellbeing is often associated with expensive initiatives such as sponsored gym memberships and mindfulness training, however, effectively supporting your employees and maintaining engagement doesn’t have to come at a big cost. There area number of practical ways you can drive wellbeing in the workplace, such as:

1. Maintain a high standard of communication

Wellbeing must be a focus throughout an employee's entire lifecycle, from when they're on their way in, to when they're on their way out.

In my experience, communication leads all other things, and with all the anxiety and uncertainty people have been experiencing in recent months, the best thing that leaders and line managers can do is communicate regularly and transparently.

The best way to reassure people is to allow them insights into the vision and direction the business is heading in. Obviously, this can be difficult amid such uncertainty, but by simply saying that they’re navigating the challenges in the best way possible and will make decisions with their people in mind, leaders can help to put employees’ minds at ease. Ambiguity only amplifies anxiety, so it is always better for people to know where they stand.

2. Normalise dialogue around wellness

Leaders should prioritise time to talk about well being with their employees and normalise dialogue around not just physical wellbeing, but mental too. It’s important to ensure that managers are equipped to deal with these types of discussions and are trained to respond appropriately to employees’ concerns.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to implement physical and mental wellbeing initiatives if they are not already available, which could include anything from a formal employee assistance program to flexible leave options.

3. Support flexibility

Flexibility has a big impact on employees’ wellness, allowing people to achieve better work/life balance and have more autonomy over their time. I’m a firm believer that the future of work will not only require it, but demand it. After all, it’s widely recognised as one of the top factors that influence whether people decide to move roles or accept a new opportunity.

At the same time, it’s necessary to balance this with regular in-person interactions and set expectations to manage productivity, but with the right parameters, leaders can get the best results from flexible work arrangements.

4. Invest in engagement platforms

Engagement platforms such as Culture Amp, Trakstar and 15Fiveare valuable tools for allowing employees to communicate around their wellbeing, so organisations that haven’t invested in such a tool would benefit from doing so. Chandler Macleod Group, for example, is rolling out a global culture program that will serve to connect the entire business and give us new ways to support our people.

The solution doesn’t have to be digital–manual ones can be effective as well– but the key is that it’s fully embedded in the business, driven by the leadership team and led from the bottom up by the employees.

Get in Touch

If you’re interested in additional advice around employee wellbeing or if you’re currently working through a career transition, feel free to reach out– I’d be happy to connect you with the information and support you need move forward.