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Are You and Your Company Bound for Recovery?

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Last July 20, we made history.

My team and I’s months of efforts culminated in the first in-person event of Great Place to Work® Philippines—GREATER: Bound for Recovery.

The experience was nothing short of exhilarating.

It felt like officially moving out of our pandemic-struck cocoons and truly emulating what the forum is all about—bouncing back post-COVID-19 stronger.

The above was made true as I finally saw our community of Great Place to Work-Certified™ companies. It made me realize that I’ll take meeting these people half-masked and in person any day over a virtual event.

The sense of community and comradeship were also so palpable. What started as a sea of strangers randomly placed together turned into groups of like-minded people who share the same values, passion and purpose.

The First Stop

That feeling of camaraderie quickly followed as we eased into the main highlight of the event: the Philippines Best Workplaces 2022 Insights Report presentation.

On stage, I shared valuable data from our research, culminating from over 130,000 surveys that represent more than 13 industries and the voices of over 230,000 Philippines-based employees.

Indubitably, the past two years have been an incredibly arduous journey on a rocky pandemic-ridden road for everyone. And the consequences are evident.

One of the aftermaths our global research with John Hopkins University has shown us is that employee well-being has been thoroughly affected—and the picture is far from pretty.

Take data we’ve gathered from the Philippines for an example. 8 in every 10 of the people surveyed say that they are highly dissatisfied with their overall well-being in life. This is concerning as globally the number falls to only half of the Philippines’, 4 in every 10.

With such an outlook, it comes as no surprise that generally, around 7 in every 10 of the people surveyed in the Philippines, in Asia and globally say that they are not optimistic about the future.

These negative views have also reached workplaces.

Holistic experiences of well-being at work, including mental and physical health, sense of purpose, social support and meaningful connections were hampered.

With such a sour mood, is it not surprising to find that according to the Edelman Trust Barometer 2022 the culture of distrust is also rampant on a global scale.

Faith in the people seated in governments around the world? Declining.

Trust in what mainstream media agencies worldwide are covering? Hanging by a thread.

However, one thing remains intact—trust in business.

Now more than ever, the need to forge strong employee and employer relationships is critical. After all, doing so has been proven to reap several rewards.

In business, this has resulted in higher engagement and productivity rates and maybe even better performance during unprecedented shifts like those during the pandemic.

How about in terms of employee well-being? The Harvard Business Review article, “The Neuroscience of Trust,” by Neuroeconomics expert Paul Zak said that people who experience a high-trust workplace culture report the following:

  • 74% less stress
  • 106% more energy at work
  • 29% more satisfaction with their lives
  • 40% less burnout
  • 66% felt closer to their colleagues
  • 60% enjoyed their jobs
  • 41% more sense of accomplishment

Another indicator of a high-trust environment is when employees experience psychological safety and feel comfortable in being transparent about what they feel. It brings me back to the wisdom shared by Maria Joanna Ravena, or Jann as she is fondly called, the People Experience Director of Pfizer Philippines, during the in-person forum.

"I think we really need to recognize that that’s the reality—that wellness also needs to be a priority. And it’s not just an issue that’s happening in the Philippines, but globally. I think we want to be able to be transparent with our colleagues and say, ‘You know what, it’s okay to say that you’re not well and it’s okay to say that you need help.’"

She continued passionately, “I think it’s really recognizing that wellness is an important part and that it’s okay to talk about it. Our colleagues and employees are having a difficult time, first line leaders and first line managers should be able to listen. I think that was one of the significant things I picked up from a while ago—we listen to really understand and not just listen to respond.”

Maria Joanna Ravena, People Experience Director of Pfizer Philippines

If anything, the significant numbers from Harvard Business Review and Jann’s empathetic views on employee well-being are tell-tale signs that trust is worth investing in.

The Destination

But here’s the hard truth—trust is not enough.

It is not the bottom line. It is merely the first step to fulfilling our ultimate goal of achieving a For All™ culture.

Clinching For All equates to having cultivated an environment where all individuals regardless of their background are given equal opportunity to reach their full human potential.

But where does For All start?

For All begins with a firm commitment from none other than us leaders. Simply put: to achieve it, we must be it.

When the culture is hinged on For All, developing every ounce of human potential becomes crucial.

After the decision of leaders to be “the change” that transitions to For All, what’s the next step?

The Stops in Between

The road to recovery is no jaunt. It does not culminate in merely one stop, Trust, and then you reach your destination. The journey is made more meaningful with the presence of other stops in between—the different elements of the Great Place to Work For All model.

Values

Let’s be honest. Sometimes our head gets so wrapped around the bottom line of the business, the goals we need to tick off and the reputation we must uphold that we forget about our fundamentals—like values.

If our strategies, targets, operations and more act as the bones, the values make the spine. Without these, the whole business sinks. On the other hand, in the presence of these, the business takes form and stands tall.

These are not just fancy terms that are aesthetically etched on the office wall or the company webpage. More than just being articulated for all to see, they are to be emulated day-by-day.

An honest question turned into comic relief when I asked our Great Place to Work-Certified leaders to raise their hand if when they were applying for their first job they researched the company’s values and purpose. I’ll leave it to you to guess what their answers were and why it got everybody in the room snickering.

Leadership Effectiveness

There’s a specific term coined for managers, it’s “people managers.”

Because more than just having leadership qualities, it is about being able to effectively lead your people due to possessing an emotional connection with them.

With enough practice and studying, anybody can be a capable decision maker but not everybody can form a genuine relationship.

I’ll never get tired of saying this: leaders’ authentic connection with their employees is what separates the best from the rest.

Case in point: Synchrony Global Services’ positive leadership. Despite that not every employee can grasp the gravity of their contributions, leaders still spend time explaining the role of their roles to the business’s overall health.

Leaders at the #2 Best Workplace™ under Large Category also ensure that they embody the values of their company. This is why 95% of their 3,378 employees concur, “Our executives fully embody the best characteristics of our company.”

What follows is because you know your people, you’re then able to create coherent and effective strategies at every level. This means that whatever plans you execute align with the aspirations and contributions of employees across ranks.

Ultimately, your strategy then evolves into a shared purpose and collective passion in the organization—and that is one way to gauge if leadership is effective.

Trust me when I speak for all people managers when I say that being a leader is a tough job. It even gets to a point where it becomes onerous. This is probably why attendees were laughing yet again when I asked them to raise their hand if the frequency of the conversations they’ve had with one of their team members regarding personal concerns has increased over the past 2 years.

Looking back at the previous question reminded me of the profound thoughts of Roger Oxales, a manager from GeengerGrp, Inc.

Roger spoke with such vigor, “The world is changing. How to handle a business and your people is now a different conversation from the previous ones. The best takeaway now is to be more people-centric. It’s more than just listening to their problems and coaching them. It’s making sure that you give value to what they’re doing. Because for the people you work with, the greatest experience in being able to work in a Great Place to Work-Certified company is the feeling that you’re valued and heard.”

Roger Oxales, Manager from GeengerGrp, Inc.

A leader is a difficult role to play, but it’s an equally rewarding and fulfilling path, too.

Maximizing Human Potential

An organization’s ability to maximize human potential is the differentiator that either places the business with the rest or the best.

Great workplaces do an excellent job building trust, but the best ones raise the bar by bringing out the best in a wide range of diverse employees. Because when compared, trust looks at how results are overall, but Maximizing Human Potential prioritizes the consistency of experience across demographic groups.

Great workplaces hire and keep a diverse group of members. But best workplaces can do the same whilst bringing out the unique talents of their people and instilling in them an assurance that they have a fair chance to progress and make a difference to the organization as much as others.

Towards the end of this segment of the presentation, I asked our Great Place to Work-Certified companies to act on 4 connected phrases.

Q #1: Stand up if your company is more diverse now than it was when you joined.

Q #2: Remain standing if your company has DEI initiatives.

Q #3: Remain standing if your company is diverse when it comes to gender and/or age.

Q #4: Remain standing if your company is diverse when it comes to other aspects besides gender and age.

It was such a pleasing sight and an honorable moment to see that around 90% of our leaders from across industries were happily standing.

Best Workplaces maximize diversity through an inclusive culture that converts it into their greatest strength.

Innovation By All

When companies maximize their employees’ full potential, what we begin to see is a culture that we call “Innovation By All.” This is where innovation comes from anywhere in the business.

The trigger point for innovation besides maximizing members’ potential? It is when employees feel encouraged, empowered and recognized for trying new and better ways of doing things regardless of their rank and role.

Innovation By All is imperative on the road to recovery. To win in a constantly changing and disruptive environment, we need to actively collaborate and continuously innovate.

Recovery, Here We Come!

The key for organizations to succeed is to maximize human potential by hinging on trust, values and leadership effectiveness. With these, innovation and financial growth inevitably follow.

I’ve touched a lot on what makes a For All culture, but here’s the thing—it won’t happen unless you create the spark.

Over many years of being a consultant, workplace culture stories have become my breakfast. I’ve had meaningful exchanges with countless people-first leaders, too. I also currently shepherd a team of bright and diverse individuals that teach me how to lead better every day.

I’ve learned from those experiences that while building high-trust teams and organizations is bigger than “I,” it still starts with the “I.”

As leaders—I am. You are. The change that is needed.

And yet, even after making that bold commitment, we cannot succeed alone. The endeavor towards For All is designed to be done with others. So, let’s do it together.

As our Director for Great Place to Work ASEAN ANZ said, “When alone, we run fast, but together, we run far.”

Do you want to journey the road to recovery with us? The first step is to build trust in your workplace culture and you can do that through our Trust Index™ survey and by getting Certified.

Click here to make your workplace culture Greater™!

Antoniette Mendoza-Talosig

Antoniette Talosig is the Managing Partner of Great Place to Work® Philippines and the Lead Consultant for Singapore.  Driven by her passion to help people be the best that they can be, Toni started Great Place to Work® in the Philippines with a vision to create a high-trust workplace experience for every Filipino.  She has close to two decades of partnership with some government agencies, SMEs, MNCs and some Fortune 100 companies across industries and geographies. Toni believes being a mother is the greatest adventure of her life and she enjoys seeing the world with her family. 

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To be eligible for the World’s Best Workplaces list, a company must apply and be named to a minimum of 5 national Best Workplaces lists within our current 58 countries, have 5,000 employees or more worldwide, and at least 40% of the company’s workforce (or 5,000 employees) must be based outside of the home country. Extra points are given based on the number of countries where a company surveys employees with the Great Place to Work Trust Index©, and the percentage of a company’s workforce represented by all Great Place to Work surveys globally. Candidates for the 2017 Worlds Best Workplaces list will have appeared on national workplaces lists published in September 2016 through August 2017.

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