Highlight: Employers have started to look beyond what the employees bring to the table towards a more holistic approach concerning employee welfare.
Until about a decade ago, companies focused only on one thing, the capital their franchise generated. This could come at the cost of the employee’s wellbeing and their emotional, and physical health. But the companies couldn’t care less. Then came the revolution in Human Resources, and with adequate new reforms, the growth of the company started running hand in hand with the employee wellbeing
Today, the scenario has changed a lot. It has become a norm for HR managers to ensure that their employees are supported throughout their careers in the company. However, HR trends keep evolving, and now there are new questions to be answered as the pandemic has forced employees to perform under immense pressure.
Also Read: What Will HR Look Like in The Next Decade?
Is it just enough that HR companies get away with doing the bare minimum in the twenty-first century? Isn’t a more holistic approach required to support employee wellbeing and needs, and not just the bits that are related to work? Let’s discuss.
The issues of the quintessential “Work-Life” balance
We have come a long way from the description of humans as machines or “hands” (As described, in Hard Times by Charles Dickens) in the 19th century. With the advent of human resource management in organizations, there has been a special focus on work ethics and culture, and employee wellbeing.
However, if there is one thing that the pandemic has taught us, it is that employers need to have a more holistic approach towards the condition of their employees and employee wellbeing. It is no news that the employees have struggled with severe mental health issues and burnout during the pandemic. Digital overload was on the rise as work from home became a necessity, merging the personal and professional somehow.
While employees claimed that their productivity had remained the same or maybe slightly higher over the past year, this productivity came at the cost of employee wellbeing that no company should have appreciated. In a study by Microsoft:
- 62% of the Indian workforce reported that companies asked too much of them in terms of working hours and workload.
- 13% say their employer did not care about their work-life balance.
- About 57% of Indian employees felt overworked, and
- 32% of those surveyed felt exhausted due to workload.
The youth in the workspace is hardly being able to withstand the brunt that the pandemic had put on them. This made one thing obvious. An approach is needed that goes beyond the quintessential ‘work-life’ balance beyond the bare minimum and focuses more on employee wellbeing.
Also Read: HR and Finance: Working Better Together
What lies beyond the bare minimum?
The pandemic has blurred the lines between home and work and is here to stay. The whole”work-life balance” concept has become chaotic and needs to be redefined. One must have a supportive household to have a holistic workspace. So if companies want their employees to give their best, they need to give some attention to their personal lives.
Focusing on employee families, companies have started to note that it is not just the treatment in the workspace that influences an employee’s productivity. Many other factors influence productivity, and one of the most important ones is family. One can give their full attention to work only when they are supported by family. In addition, familial issues tend to divert employee attention to other matters, leaving little attention span for concentrating on work. Nobody can perform well in a workspace if they are already stressed due to other issues.
From Work-life balance to Full-Life balance
Looking beyond the boundaries demarcated by the concept of work-life balance means that a company needs to focus on an employee’s familial needs if they want their employees to give their hundred percent. Different companies took different approaches towards tackling the added pressure pandemic put on their employees.
Some companies found that during the pandemic, there was a steep rise in the number of employees whose partners had lost employment. They also noticed that there were employees with children struggling to go to school. This undoubtedly put them under immense stress causing them to fall back on the work.
What followed was help. These companies made their learning and development platforms open and available to their employees, in the hope of giving the households the resources they needed to progress during the tough period. As education shifted towards the digital front, a major chunk of children suffered. Not everybody had the privilege to own a personal computer. To tackle the problem, the Access Group in the U.K made spare laptops available to all their employees’ kids.
Other organizations reflected on the pressure pandemic had put on the personal relationships of their employees. With several employees going through separations, the pandemic had put excessive pressure on the family dynamics. These companies, in return, came up with therapy sessions for employees and their partners to cope with the additional pressure that the pandemic was putting on them.
Losing employment was one major problem employees faced during the pandemic. Some companies even helped their employees navigate through these tumultuous times. Kimpton, a chain of hotels located in San Francisco, California had to shut a number of its locations when the pandemic hit. However, the company made sure that the onus of this abrupt closing did not fall on its employees. The company worked at a swift pace to help furloughed Kimptonites find temporary jobs at companies that were gearing up, such as Amazon and grocery chains. (In several cases, the applicants didn’t even appear for an interview but got hired on the recommendations alone.) In another company CarMax—where 99% of employees were fired during the pandemic have since been brought back—one employee wrote that “they appreciated that executives took a pay cut and that the board of trustees did not receive any compensation.“
The above scenarios exemplify how employers have started to look beyond what the employees bring to the table- shifting the paradigm in the working industry where employees are looked upon as more of an ‘asset’ than humans. This, in the future, will help other companies to look beyond the bare necessities of workspace and provide an appropriate environment to employees to maximize their productivity.
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