In recent weeks, the global pandemic and our nation’s social unrest has required us all to re-define what health and safety mean personally and how this translates to the work environment. Recognizing this as an opportunity to explore both the emotional and mental impacts on employees’ wellbeing and how organizations can be better equipped to support people moving forward, we held a discussion with four industry experts who brought a myriad of perspectives. The following are five key takeaways from that discussion to help you promote and support healthy employees in the workplace. To watch the entire, one-hour discussion, please click here.
1. Engagement to Care – How is your organization demonstrating care? For many years, we have been discussing how effective employee engagement leads to happier, more productive people and, in turn, benefits the organization and workplace environment. COVID and our new world view, including the ongoing racial and social injustices, require “authenticity” in every way. Truly caring for the whole person’s wellbeing requires all leaders to get comfortable in uncomfortable spaces and to be authentic in their support of their individual team members.
2. Don’t Leverage the Moment – This unsettled environment has precipitated a “reactive” response to many workplace attributes, specifically the physical environment and associated protocols. Solutioning for employee health (physical, mental & emotional) and safety will continue to evolve, and strategic thinking will still be critical. Embrace that the pendulum continues to swing and reacting to the extreme of that swing may result in short-sighted decisions.
3. Sense of Oneness – We are at a unique point in history. Each day we are all experiencing similar challenges, making new decisions and calculating risks that impact ourselves, our families and our extended communities. This new normal is global, national, regional and local. Our human experience requires a stronger empathetic approach and respect for the complex and expanded wellbeing definition.
4. Leading & Communicating Change – Now, more than ever, organizations’ key stakeholders must have a role in leading change and communicating early and often about the many moving parts and nuances that are part of our employee health and safety discussion. In the past, emphasis on wellbeing was an abstract notion. The global pandemic, however, induces a significant gravity and seriousness that is experienced by all. Health and safety in the workplace convey a completely different meaning and messaging should reflect its significance.
5. Workplace is the Family Extension – Much like our immediate, family relationships where we’ve focused on taking care of each other, employees will remember how they were treated during this global pandemic. The strength of employees’ connection to their organizational culture and its local community is key. This pandemic has driven a reversal as global companies better understand the local implication. This will offer an opportunity to re-engage & cross-over in new and innovative ways.
A special thanks to our panelists for contributing to the discussion: Tonika Kottenbrock, HR Leader & Employee Engagement Specialist; Melanie Redman, Senior Design Researcher with Steelcase; Carol Rickard-Brideau, Little’s Corporate Office President; and, John Komisin, Chairman of Little.