The impact of coronavirus on employee wellbeing has been vast, from having to adapt to new processes overnight to being isolated from colleagues and normality. However, the ‘new normal’ is encouraging positive change around employee satisfaction and talent retention. Forget beer fridges and office dogs, sometimes stripping things back to the core is the best way to inspire a workforce.
- Offer work flexibility without question
If there’s anything the pandemic has shown, it’s that working from home can work. Everyone has a preference, but giving choice returns trust. Allowing employees to have a say in their terms is a sure-fire way to boost satisfaction.
A key consideration for HR is remote working policies. Is it something all levels can do? Does a formal request need to be raised? Many employees will provide ‘reasonable’ excuses – but are they necessary if there are no prior commitments? And that’s not all. Other working policies, like medical leave and grievance, should be assessed for suitability.
- Avoid indirectly encouraging overworking
Employees should never feel subconsciously guilted into working beyond their contracted hours. However, British workers complete around 10 hours of overtime on average each week. With correct management of workload and recruitment, no one should feel like they are stretched too thinly.
Emailing late at night and using work apps on personal phones isn’t something that should be celebrated. Of course, this might sometimes be necessary, but it shouldn’t be something that’s an accepted norm.
This ties into how employees, especially millennials, now move on when they are too stressed or receive low pay. It’s essential to create an environment that puts employees first – as businesses are only as good as their staff after all.
- Encourage a healthy work-life balance
As well as making the workplace a more positive space, the home office is now an important consideration. Working from home can be just as, if not more, productive than being at the office. However, the main drawback is the lack of separation between work and social life.
Some employees may feel more pressure to be productive while not under their manager’s watchful eye. This attitude should be discouraged by urging them to take regular breaks, finish on time, and close their laptop during lunch.
In the event that remote working appears to be less productive for some employees, this should be approached sensitively and with concern around wellbeing. The better employees’ needs are accommodated, the more inclined they will be to stay with a business.
- Provide payment accuracy and flexibility
It’s time to go back to basics. Payroll legislation is changing all the time, from Minimum National Wage to statutory payments. Being paid the correct amount and on time is the bare minimum reward any employee should receive.
Incorrect payments are more common than expected, with a 2019 study showing that 76% of the employers surveyed had failed to pay their staff correctly or on time in the past year. Payroll software with automation features and compliance with legislation can help to reduce human error – and sometimes switching can save businesses money. Choosing the right payroll software is essential to get right.
Then there’s consideration around flexible payments. The option to allow advance payment is a huge advantage that can relieve employees of stress around money; something that carries through to work motivation.
- Create a safe space to share concerns
Employees may keep quiet about their concerns in fear of penalisation. However, honest feedback is the most valuable thing that HR teams can possess. Consider options like anonymous surveys with prompts around the work environment, management, and value. Making positive change based on negative feedback will reinforce trust in the workforce.
Just as employees should be open, so should HR and management. Known issues that need to be addressed should be vocalised, as this is a key opportunity to gain insight into common bugbears and potential solutions. A work policy that encourages openness is one where workers aren’t silenced into submission.
Some managers treat regular reviews like a box-ticking exercise, but it’s essential to rethink them. With the right agenda, more meaningful topics can be uncovered, and any issues can be addressed.
- Challenge the norms
We admit to ourselves that meetings can often be summarised in a 30-second email. So why continue to organise them? A new phenomenon propelled by COVID-19 is the reliance on video calls for short catch-ups that would have previously been informal calls.
The solution? Easy – cut the red tape and prioritise what’s most efficient. If employees frequently complain about a standardised process, is it something that can be changed? Can it be done better, for example, by introducing new technology?
- Ensure all people feel accommodated
It’s 2020, yet the representation of issues surrounding gender, sexuality, and race is still lacking in the workplace. Some HR teams may use language that excludes employees without even realising it. HR teams should take the time to learn and understand issues that could impact employees – all staff should feel comfortable and encouraged to be themselves. This also includes assessing diversity within the workplace.
At a time when the importance of family and physical and mental health has become clearer than ever, we need to rethink how we work. The bells and whistles are no longer enough, and standard processes are being challenged to enable greater employee satisfaction.
Not only does focusing on the wellbeing of employees boost productivity and retention, but it also encourages new talent and business. It’s the first place to start when it comes to setting a precedent for the future.
By Luke Thomas of Codapay