In the below article, one of our Project Managers, Neil Felton reflects on how company lead initiatives can fuel employee connection and make your staff feel a part of something greater. Neil explores what this means in the era of WFH and the impact of wellbeing and communication.
Six years ago, while on a late-night trip to a large office building, with a van load of vision and values graphics travelling behind me, the only importance recognizable to me was getting them onto the wall in the right place and being off-site by 6AM. That deadline, was all that mattered to me at the time.
Fast forward six years later and while the importance of those links of the chain are still very much relevant, the reasons why we were there that night rings home a completely different list of importance to me. Little did I understand, the amount of work, planning, research and funding that had gone into that project before we arrived complaining about the interruption to our precious sleep patterns.
At this financial institution, business managers, marketing teams, HR teams, internal communications and facilities management to name but a few, had been busy coming up with a clever plan which ensured employees from all departments were all on the same bus and headed in the one direction! We were now about to play our part in delivering an employee engagement activation plan!
The strategy behind these projects fascinated me. Over the following years while moving through the ranks quite quickly, I soon became an integral part of those plans. I became part of the ‘team’ working behind the scenes to bring employee engagement projects to life, making sure they were delivered on time, within budget and achieving maximum impact across businesses in a consistent fashion. What is important to say is that it wasn’t all about hammering home the companies purpose statement, a big part of the process was about making each and every employee feel part of a team, a family, encouraging wellness, diversity and inclusion. Ideas were masterminded around how to bring the brand closer to the employee and make them want to be part of the business’s success, which in turn helped attract talent! Some months after the activation went live, I would l walk into a company for a catch up with new friends over coffee. There was a feeling like the employees were well looked after, reminders at the lifts about how many calories you could burn if you took the stairs, interactive noticeboards offering lunchtime yoga classes, call-out of how to access help if you are not quite feeling 100%, designated wellness rooms, quiet rooms, ergonomic training sessions, breakout spaces, the cozy sofa where you got some reassuring advice from a more senior member of the team before a presentation, and even colorful stress balls for staff to squeeze the life out of if they felt they needed to! A real comfort and buzz about the place!
It is 2020, and you don’t need me to tell you that things have completely changed. While the 3D logos, interactive boards and lunchtime yoga as we knew it might be parked for now, has the importance of wellness, feeling like part of the team and the reassurance of daily communications been left behind? What has replaced the cozy sofa? The senior managers daily advice? Do the staff now know where to turn when they don’t feel 100%? In a recent study by trade union Forsa, 69% of respondents cited lack of interaction with colleagues as the primary drawback to working from home. A close second was the difficulty in separating ‘work’ and ‘home’. One third had not even been provided with necessary equipment. Respondents, while acknowledging the effect on their physical health, cited mental health as more of a worry than broader health and safety issues. I picked up the phone and called my friends who I know work from home. My research found that while some are happy working from home and the flexibility it has given them is a positive, they are experiencing a disconnect with the business and therefore not as consciously willing to go the extra mile to impress managers in the same way as they would have when they were in the office. One friend mentioned that she is working from the kitchen table since March and was not aware of the impact this was having on her health and wellbeing.
To summarize all of the above. The importance of health and safety, wellbeing and communication has never been greater than it is right now in my opinion. HR people need to work closely with management to address these issues to protect the continuity of the business. Maybe finance need to address the defects in the working from home system and how this is actually leading to exposure to claims and the knock-on effect that brings. Businesses need to understand the responsibilities and liabilities they have as an employer to those home workers. Do they feel as loved while working at home as they did in the office? How many offices are you now responsible for? Is it 50? Is it 500?
I feel passionately about what we at Capella can do to help. As well as offering a really robust assessment of the home working environment that covers the employer’s responsibility and liability, we offer advice on how to approach wellness to those who work from home. All the while, understanding the importance of getting the employees back into a safe office environment which ultimately gets them back into the business bubble of positive business engagement and wellness. We offer a consultation service which covers compliance, on-site risk assessments and redesigns to make the office environment as safe as it can possibly be