Why would HR managers today be interested in building more human-focused workplaces?
Because research states that just one engaged employee is worth thousands of dollars more in terms of organizational productivity than ten disengaged employees.
From a pool of more than 1,700 CEOs surveyed by IBM, 71% acknowledge that human capital is a key ingredient in gaining a competitive advantage.
In recent years, the HR role has evolved, but the employee experience remains at its core.
This report confirms that the human component must be prioritized through this evolutionary journey. Your business will see a trifecta of benefits as a result:
Shaping the employee experience has become a vital business initiative, as HR professionals continue to realize its impact on business outcomes.
Happy employees have become the key differentiator for organizations which are competing to attract and retain the best talent.
Healthy workplace environments mean:
- Turnover costs remain significantly reduced
- Lower instances of employee absenteeism
- Reduced employee medical insurance costs
- Top-notch employee performance and productivity
- Actively engaged employees
Bolstered by the effects of a positive workplace environment, employees automatically transform into happier, highly motivated people. They begin to assimilate with the nature of their work, unleashing their highest potential to deliver excellent results.
“Engaged employees are more attentive and vigilant. They look out for the needs of their coworkers and the overall enterprise because they personally ‘own’ the result of their work and that of the organization.”- Jim Harter Ph.D., Chief scientist, Gallup Research
Employee engagement goes beyond boosting productivity.
Engaged employees double the rate of business success in a myriad of ways:
- Continuously recreate in-organization jobs, making it easier to spot hidden potential
- Actively listen to the views of people in safety, quality, or management roles
- Quickly align their personal goals to the company’s larger purpose and outlook
- Participate in a virtuous business circle, comprised of clear communication, constant collaboration, and professional nurturing
A simple, but effective method of zeroing in on engagement is ensuring clear communication about the company’s vision, mission, and core values.
The HR manager must understand what drives the particular organization, before finding a way to fit each employee’s goals into that purpose.
Engagement levels drastically increase once employees:
- Clearly understand their unique roles
- Are provided with the necessary tools and resources to accomplish their tasks
- Make the connection between the company’s goals and their roles
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Steps for Constructing a More Productive and Human-Focused Workplace
Prioritize Mental and Financial Wellness
There are plenty of statistics that underline the importance of prioritizing mental wellness in the workplace.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that one in five adults in the United States experiences some form of mental illness in any given year. This translates to:
- An annual cost of $193.2 billion in lost earnings,
- 75% of Gen Z and 50% of millennials resigning from employment,
- Increased calls for awareness and advocacy, and
- 50% of employees admitting that the workplace harms their overall mental health.
Google remains an admirable corporate example. The tech giant has created supporting resources for their employees, including their Mental Health Program Manager initiative, which makes therapists available to employees in house.
Similarly, financial heavyweight JP Morgan retains therapists across multiple cities including London, New York, and Chicago. Similarly, Goldman Sachs trains some of their UK staff to become mental health first aiders who identify co-workers in distress and step in to help.
Financial stress affects employee productivity in both subtle and overt forms:
- SHRM notes that financial problems do indeed affect employee performance.
- More than three-quarters of full-time employees in the United States are currently living paycheck to paycheck. The associated stress and anxiety is impacting productivity in the workplace.
For better business outcomes, the HR manager should consider:
- Curating a “work smart” culture
- Offering employees periodic financial assessments
- Introducing personalized financial wellness training and tools
- Exploring flexible salary payment options
Simple adjustments such as these not only attract and retain the best talent in a competitive market but also positively affect an organization’s public image.
Elevate the Employee Experience—Holistically
To enhance the employee experience, HR practitioners should give their human capital management strategies a more holistic makeover.
Prominent companies steer clear of a one-size-fits-all HR approach.
They take the time to understand their workforce, constantly shifting desires and needs. The modern employee is looking for a better work-life balance and additional benefits that impact their wellbeing.
As a result, employers must:
- Convince their workers that employment is a shared value
- Provide more time for self-care, friends, and hobbies to their employees
Prominent companies are now considering bringing the consumer experience to the workplace using their existing tools and resources.
Data is a key component in this approach because it touches several aspects of the business. Today’s technology has enabled new levels of data collection and analytics.
HR teams are using these resources to improve their workplaces. In this case, an accessible and integrated system is paramount because it can seamlessly and simultaneously take on:
- Developmental training
- Creating unique employee learning recommendations
- Providing ongoing training reinforcement
- Gauging employee engagement
- Measuring leadership skills
The data trend is only expected to accelerate in the upcoming years.
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Prioritize Mental and Financial Wellness
Although productivity takes precedence for many organizations, the stress-inducing approaches once favored in the past are being replaced by more people-centered solutions.
Productivity peaks in a work environment that drives people to flourish.
For a holistic employee experience, HR managers should look into:
- Identifying and addressing known and unknown barriers to a productive work environment (e.g., incessant emails, noise interruptions, tight schedules, insufficient training, and poor communication).
- Enabling a culture of employee recognition, which is a powerful way to make an individual feel deeply valued.
- Promoting employee health, including healthy diet and lifestyle choices.
- Supporting employee growth through learning and development.
- Ensuring that the physical environment makes the employees feel comfortable and safe.
- Encouraging social interaction among the employees. This results in stronger bonds and better rapport among co-workers.
- Ensuring that company resources give the employees the freedom to efficiently undertake their tasks with minimal interruptions.
Each outlined solution above depends on each organization’s unique challenges, but the universal objective is to approach each one of them from the employee’s point of view.
Technology Is the Future of Work—Don’t Leave the People Behind
No doubt, AI and other technologies are transforming the future of work. They have blurred the lines between work and home, thanks to virtual employees.
Companies have realized that AI and machine learning deliver tangible benefits:
- Bridging existing skills gaps,
- Facilitating quicker decision making,
- Improving operational efficiency, and
- Reducing organizational costs.
Projections indicate that by 2022, one in five workers will have virtual assistants or machines as their co-workers in the quest for employee efficiency. And nearly 1 billion users will rely on AI-powered virtual assistants by 2025.
HR managers can help their employees adjust to new technology by:
- Explaining how the new technology will benefit their specific roles and what impact that will have on the business in general.
- Using clear communication to share a road map for implementation.
- Being patient; different people have distinct learning curves. Allow employees to learn without pressure.
- Providing interesting incentives to encourage employees to embrace change.
- Encouraging an environment of feedback based on usage and effectiveness.
The concern that machines will soon replace human workers is overshadowed by the new reality of the future of work, which will juxtapose man with machine, enriching the workforce.
Break Tradition – Offering Choices and Flexible Work Plans
The 9-5 work schedule is facing global extinction.
Employees are getting younger and older at the same time. As HR teams contend with an increasingly multigenerational workforce, businesses are seeing a gravitational trend in favor of remote working.
Organizations are adopting communication software, employee productivity software tools, and robust time management solutions to keep up with this burgeoning trend.
A New Zealand firm tested the potential suitability of a 4-day workweek. Within two months, it saw a:
- 24% increase in work-life balance
- 20% rise in employee engagement
- 7% reduction in stress levels
This study found that 73% of all departments will have remote workers by 2028.
Boosted by the entry of digital nomads and the explosion of workforce innovations, the nature of remote work is rapidly morphing and will become more widespread as the global workforce transitions into it.
In the United States, more employees are requesting a remote working arrangement. Companies can benefit from having a remote working policy by reducing overhead costs while increasing employee satisfaction. Employees are attracted to this option due to:
- Malleable schedules
- More family time
- Ability to travel
- Escaping toxic work environments
- More time for wellness initiatives
To effectively work remotely, people need the right training and tools to work collaboratively. A good remote office culture therefore supports:
- Video chats
- Shared resources
- Accessibility and convenience
- Time management
- Open communication
- And so much more
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