The future of work shows that tomorrow’s employer of choice will be flexible and a champion of wellbeing to attract top talent, and benefit employees and employers alike.
HR leaders shared how their organisations are leading the way on reshaping their employee value propositions at this ChapmanCG roundtable in Singapore hosted by Anouk De Blieck, Head of Human Resources, Asia Pacific at Visa.
Connecting to the world for wellbeing
Anouk and Bianca Stringuini discussed Visa’s commitment to connecting the world through the most innovative, reliable and secure ways, and the ways in which the Visa environment is making it enjoyable for people to go about life. They strive for inclusivity and diversity in doing what one does as an employee. They ask that everybody bring their best self to work and strive to create a network of champions.
Roundtable participants discussed the importance of having ‘depth of inclusion’ practices. In particular, having high diversity in employee make-up, however low inclusion in terms of decision-making, voice, ability to influence, and social interaction, leads to an environment of chaos with lots of people doing very little due to their inability to be effective. In other words, there is no point in having diversity if adequate ‘inclusion’ is not effectively practiced
Building awareness of diversity and what it means to be ‘inclusive’ is a starting point, especially amongst businesses and leaders who demonstrate very little knowledge of D&I. Identifying and enabling champions of D&I, and utilising them to build awareness can lead to a company eventually becoming best in class. This in turn will promote well-being amongst staff, a sense of community and a level of flexibility.
Wellness and wellbeing
Roundtable participants heard from Margaret Mitchell, Vice President – People & Organization, APAC for Mars, which is listed as one of the top 10 companies to work for globally from an employee engagement and satisfaction perspective.
Noting that employees can be engaged but not energised, Margaret spoke about how seriously Mars is taking the health and wellbeing of its employees.
Corporate wellness programs are on the rise as company leaders begin to recognise the benefits of preventative health initiatives to both productivity and health care costs. Wellness programs are crucial to a healthier, higher-performing workforce.
Why is wellness important to a company?
A wellness program ultimately can help employees create and sustain healthy behaviours, giving them more energy, leading to greater productivity and higher performance. If you look only at costs (indirect and direct), it makes sense to try and establish healthy behaviours and environments with your associates. Healthier associates generally experience greater energy, higher productivity and fewer medically related absences, all of which can result in significant cost savings to the company.
However, workplace wellness goes beyond that. Wellness programs and healthy environments can improve morale and energy, as well as help in the recruitment and retention of associates. Associates see wellness programs and healthy environments as a sign that leadership supports their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. The employee is then more likely to stay and grow with the company.
Creating an Effective Wellness Program
An effective workplace wellness program should have strong leadership support and engagement and environments that foster and support healthy behaviours. This could include:
- healthy options in the cafeterias and vending machines
- work spaces that promote and encourage movement
- areas for associates to recover mentally and emotionally
- programs that address holistic wellbeing (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual).
It’s important to first focus on the leadership and environment aspects because without these critical support elements for healthy behaviours, programs will struggle to be sustainable or successful.
Buy-in and participation
At Mars they use a variety of different communication strategies and leverage gamification, leadership participation, and team-based programs. When a leader is engaged, and participating, it increases the engagement and participation by almost 55 percent. Associates see their line manager participate and then feel it’s okay to participate themselves.
Activities and Incentives that Work
Mars found that team-based fitness programs yield the best engagement. In addition to helping increase engagement, it also helps sustain engagement. Team-based fitness programs also help build team morale.
As for incentives, this becomes a little harder to due various laws, etc. Premium reductions have proven to be effective in driving engagement, but don’t always help to create behaviour change. Gift cards, merchandise and discounts to area attractions or online stores have also been received well. Read more about Mars’s workplace wellbeing here.
The Energy Project
Aparna Kumar, Regional Human Resource Lead – Asia Pacific, Monsanto /Bayer introduced us to ‘The Energy Project’, a company that energises people and companies to become more engaged, focused, productive, and high-performing to help companies and their employees thrive.
More than two-thirds of employees around the world, feel disengaged, dispirited and fatigued at work. Knowing that, Bayer asked why that was.
Companies trade money for an employee’s time – that’s how the corporate world works. The problem is that buying people’s time is not a guarantee of getting an employee’s best efforts. No amount of money will ever be sufficient to meet all employees’ needs at work.
Rather than trying to demand more and more from employees, employers need to invest more generously in meeting their people’s core needs: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. When employees feel better taken care of, they’re freed, fuelled and inspired to take better care of their customers and clients. It’s a win for everyone.
Renewal and the power of caring for employees
Caring for employees at the physical level begins with creating a culture that values renewal and rest as a fuel for sustainable high performance. Encouraging renewal serves both employers and employees at the mental level, too. Overloading the brain with information leads to distraction, reducing how much it retains over time. Mental downtime not only provides an opportunity to relax and refuel, but also to reflect and to digest new information. People also tend to get their best ideas during downtime, when they’re not working toward a specific goal.
But the most powerful aspect of caring for employees occurs at the emotional level. How people feel profoundly influences how they perform. Nothing influences employees’ engagement as the feeling that they’re genuinely cared for and valued by their leaders and managers.
The Energy Project, encourages leaders and their teams to practice publicly acknowledging each other’s successes. They encourage team leaders to hold weekly community meetings that begin with a simple but powerful question: “How are you (really) feeling today?” The freedom to answer this question helps everyone know what others are bringing to work emotionally, and to be more attuned to them. Essentially, It’s ok to be not ok, and it’s also ok to be totally ok.
Meaning and Significance
Another core need is for meaning and significance. When a company stands for something beyond maximising profit, employees have the potential for a purpose beyond a pay check. It’s both energising and inspiring to work for a company that is committed to something beyond its immediate self-interest.
That’s relatively easy for non-profits, whose goal is to add value to others. But it’s also possible for companies that sell more mundane products and services.
Affecting the bottom line
In companies with the most engaged employees, 74 percent of them felt their leaders had a sincere interest in their well-being, while just 16 percent of employees felt that way in the companies with the least engaged workers.
According to The Energy Project, there were stunning performance differences between the companies with the most engaged and least engaged employees. The companies with the least engaged employees had an average operating margin of 10 percent. The companies with the most engaged employees had an average operating margin of 27 percent — nearly three times as high.
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