Protecting employee health and welfare remains a top priority for many leaders. And while the benefits of this go far beyond business performance, it’s true that there’s also a strong financial case for building a culture of trust in the workplace, as we continue to go through very uncertain times together.
We explore this topic and how businesses can frame their future decisions around inclusivity and shared values as we all navigate new challenges.
Accept that Times have Changed
As businesses navigate tough decisions, there is a growing demand for enhanced sick leave and other key health and safety policy protections in the workplace. The reality is that new unavoidable forces are at play, which continues to affect the way people work and what they expect from their employers.
While it’s obvious that hoping things will return to normal eventually isn’t a good plan (if you can call it a plan at all), many business owners aren’t sure how they should move forward to compensate for the real business challenges that come with operating during times when a greater burden is placed on companies for protecting their employees.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for how your business can adapt its approach to meet the times, but it’s clear that success in this area relies on first accepting that we are indeed living in a new reality. Recognising this yourself and communicating it to your team will help to show people you’re in tune with what’s happening and actively thinking about the future.
Build Change Around Core Values
Clarity of purpose and values driven leadership will help to provide your company with a guiding compass through whatever storm you may face, now or in the future. During periods of rapid change and crisis, it’s easy for standards to slip and for people’s decisions to be motivated by immediate concerns and fears.
However, the stronger your values are, the better you’ll perform when things go awry. When planning for change and contingency plans in light of any disruption to your business, make sure that you keep your core values at the heart of what you do in a very practical way eg use them consciously when making an important decision.
By building a strong foundation of principles, you will be better able to rally together your employees. Connecting tactical decisions in the workplace to a larger set of guiding principles will make it easier for people to put their faith in you and potentially make short-term sacrifices, if necessary.
Address People’s Concerns in Real-time
If your team is worried about something, address it immediately. By prioritising workplace health and safety, you’re letting your employees know they’re important.
Organisations are being tested in a completely new way today, and not catering to the physical and mental well-being of employees will leave your business vulnerable to resentment, lower employee engagement, lack of motivation and loss of purpose.
There is no one-size-fits-all magic formula for how your employees can manage their work and home life balance and you need to identify the approaches that will be of most benefit for your employees in their situation. Consider a range of solutions including virtual mental health coaching, mindfulness sessions, group coaching for parents, virtual exercise classes, buddy groups, listening sessions and others.
You can also consider how new benefits schemes such as enhanced crisis childcare support could help parents through difficult times. Offering flexibility and care now will be much appreciated by employees and be remembered long into the future.
Consider Ways to Improve Team Bonding and Connectivity
At the team level, it’s hard to feel connected and “safe” within your hub of colleagues and managers when you don’t actually see them as much. There are lots of virtual teamwork and communication tools that can help here, but often we rely on them only for work-based tasks.
Consider ways to encourage interaction between team members beyond the workplace. Catch-ups, team bonding events, quizes, shared online activities and more can give your employees a forum for sharing their thoughts and feelings.
Based on our experience at SERVICEBRAND GLOBAL, helping a number of organisations improve integration and shared values during times of change and disruption, we’ve included a few final takeaways to keep in mind over the months ahead.
• Values-driven leadership can serve as a compass for people during disruptive times and can make it easier for your leaders to make critical decisions
• Even as things normalise, health and safety remain a number one priority for most employees. Get ahead of any concerns and anxieties in the office by implementing smart policies and strategies to keep your employees content in the knowledge that you’ve got their best interests at heart
• Find ways to support the mental, emotional and even spiritual well-being of your teams and you’ll be investing in your strength and robustness as a company.
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