In the Philippines’ Best Workplaces 2020 Insights Report published recently in May, data gathered shows employees of Philippines’ Best Workplaces™ are 1.2x more likely to have a consistent positive workplace experience across the 5 dimensions of a high-trust workplace culture – mainly Credibility, Respect, Fairness, Pride and Camaraderie. These 5 dimensions are the cornerstones of the ideal employee experience according to the Great Place to Work® Trust Model, and the common goal of management is being able to develop and find the right balance of support and engagement such that these key factors are invariably met.
Over the years, many organizations locally and around the world have succeeded in providing healthy, robust and high-performing workplaces. Great Place to Work® has certified hundreds of Great Workplaces™ worldwide, and even so, employees of Philippines’ Inaugural Best Workplaces™ have reported an 87% Trust Index™ score in their most recent surveys, which is at par with Asia’s Best and slightly above the World’s Best average of 85%.
With the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic this year, it has been an uphill struggle for many companies to stay afloat, much less nurture strong workplace dynamics. But as it turns out, some companies still managed to address employees’ basic needs of safety, stability and security during the first stages of this crisis. Organizations on the Philippines’ Certified Great Place to Work List all had ready programs in place to extend logistical, medical, psychological well-being, and financial support to their employees all throughout the deployment phase, as most of them sent around 90% of their workforce to work from home.
Now, four months into quarantine, we are evolving into the next phase, sustainability. The remote work set-up is here to stay, albeit on a partial basis, as hope of finding a vaccine is vague at best. It is not a time of despair though, but rather a chance for organizations to listen to their people, analyse and implement tailored responses to the needs of a varied population. The good news is, with advances in technology and data analytics such as Emprising™ from Great Place to Work®, it is now much easier to administer and customise employee surveys to identify issues, provide solutions, keep track of people programs and assess which ones are working.
The next phase of work presents an opportunity for companies to rethink the ‘employee experience’ in ways that recognize individual differences despite being faced with similar circumstances. Recent observations point that there will always be a contrast in personal living conditions, mindsets, skills and capabilities; and the organization’s willingness to accommodate this diversity and address challenges in a more targeted way will set it on its path to meaningful change.
The reality of work in the current and future settings is likely that employees need to balance more roles in a single confined space – their home. Employees are parents, caregivers, leaders and followers, managers and providers at the same time, all while trying to dodge health threats at every possibility, thereby leading to burnout not just on a physical level, but on a mental and psychological one. There is added responsibility and pressure on every team member, and a general tendency for anxiety and unease among workers. So, in order to maintain camaraderie and trust on a virtual plane, one fundamental tenet must be brought forward – RESPECT.
At Great Place to Work®, Respect is ‘the extent to which employees feel valued by the organization, by assessing the levels of support, collaboration and care that they experience through management’s actions towards them, and that of their peers.’
The sub-dimension of Support encompasses employees’ sense of value to the organization, when they are recognized for their contributions, allowed growth opportunities, appreciated for good work and extra effort, and allowed mistakes as part of the learning process. Needless to say, now is the best time to exhibit support for employees, especially since vulnerabilities are surfacing, in order for them to build self-confidence, have pride in the work that they do, and encourage them to trust their leaders and give more of themselves to the business. With proper support by means of empathetic and personalized communication; creativity and innovation will surely flourish, as people feel capable of taking appropriate risks and developing new ideas, which will likewise contribute to business growth.
Collaboration assesses the quality of interactions and cooperation between employees and management. In a collaborative environment, leaders reach out to people to ask for their opinions and ideas and allow them to participate in decision-making matters that affect their jobs or inform them how their inputs will be placed to good use. All the same, now is the best time for leaders to practice transparency in order to cultivate trust, and their behaviour will help calm or even energize employees, so that they will feel vested in the organization’s mission and purpose and embrace new ways of working. ‘Involved’ employees develop a deeper sense of ownership in their work, are keener on successful implementation of changes, will be attached to the outcome and are more likely to suggest positive and practical solutions to the business.
The final and key factor to Respect, would be Caring. This measures the extent to which managers show an interest in their people’s well-being by providing them with a healthy and safe environment, as well as benefits that support their lives outside of the workplace. Now more than ever, when work and personal life are intertwined, the level of genuine care that is extended by leaders will define the impact they will have on the workforce and the business as a whole, even long after we have recovered from the pandemic. It is imperative that they encourage employees to create healthy and proper workspaces, and share resources wherever possible, to give them emotionally and psychologically healthy places to work, especially outside the usual comforts of their previous office walls. Companies should also provide flexible work hours and leave benefits, and advocate inclusion especially for primary caregivers and parents, being mindful that office walls no longer separate employees from the pressures they face at home. Where care is nurtured, people tend to be more mindful of themselves, work with less supervision, and can likewise easily respond to the needs of others. There is no better time to show goodwill to employees as now, and care is essential in gaining their loyalty, commitment and complete trust.
The underlying element of Respect is Listening. Leaders should strive to listen to the voices of their members, while members should listen to and trust the wisdom of their leaders. It is crucial to maintain this continuous two-way relationship in order to enable growth within the organization.
At this point in time, the journey to the new normal is far from over. It has indeed become Shifting Horizons where organizations continuously strive to find the right balance in creating a great workplace experience for their people – beyond the office walls. In doing so, leaders should demonstrate gestures of respect, and continue to listen to the voices of those who matter most – their employees. After the pandemic is over, successful companies will look back on this time and ponder how they managed to pull through. Surely by then, human capital will still be the heart of any workplace, no matter the structure that holds it together. And how they managed to motivate their people to get there, perhaps with this most intrinsic of values, shall be how they will be remembered.
Xyris loves to look at life through a broader lens. She is a certified bookworm, occasional writer, intrepid traveler and design enthusiast. She likes to create and breathe vibrancy to things. When not organizing events, she is a content contributor for GPTW PH and likewise handles corporate matters. A happy wife and a doting mom, she finds joy in unique experiences and believes that everyone has the potential for greatness.