Kindness - a new principal in workplace wellbeing?

Kindness and community spirit are just some of the terms we’ve come to embrace over the last few months as the world tackles the current Covid-19 crisis. And out of talks about a return to work and ‘normal’ life evolve many organisations are asking ‘What is ‘normal’?‘ Should we return to an ‘old’ way of working, recruiting and looking after our employees, or create something new, something it has been suggested that is ‘kinder’?

Suitably, this week is Mental Health Awareness Week which is running the hashtag #KindnessMatters. So how can organisations ensure they are supporting their employees, making themselves attractive to future candidates and find new ways to on-board staff?

Recognise anxiety and building resilience

With ‘around 60% of the UK’s population ha[ving] left the workplace to work from home’ [Finder.com, April 27, 2020] returning to work post-lockdown is bound to bring with it a range of questions and anxieties. It’s important to recognise these and work with your teams to manage a return to work. Leaders who embrace change, flexibility, and have open and honest conversations with their teams are likely to encourage trust, and staff loyalty. According to the recent Mercer report 61% of people trust their employer to look after their well-being, [yet] only 29% of HR leadership have a health and well-being strategy in place.

Be people-centric

Earlier this year, 58% of organisations [were] redesigning their organisations to become more people-centric [Mercer report]. Employees who feel more valued are likely to invest in you as an organisation. Whilst, improving employee morale can help reduce staff turnover. Looking at how you onboard new members employees is also key – many new employees have had to start positions having only met their team online – As an employee how can you make the right impression online? Could this change how onboarding might look in the future? (see 5 ways to help you hire the right staff where we look at the importance of onboarding).

Assess productivity fairly

Two-thirds of employers have reported increased productivity for remote workers [Finder.com, April 27, 2020], perhaps challenging the original assumption that working from home would lead to a drop in productivity. However, there is a flipside, as a number of organisations, are looking into how they help employees avoid burnout as the lines between work and home life become more blurred [Harvard Business Review, April 2020]. This new ‘normal’ is likely to see more people working remotely: 71% of Millennials believe the office will be obsolete by 2030 [Austin Knight] but organisations will need to look how they build kindness and empathy into their business processes and tackle some of the biggest struggles this poses – loneliness, communication being just two [Buffer, April 2020].Class of 2020

The extent Covid-19 will impact on the class of 2020 is yet to be seen, but the effect on mental health is already showing. Many students are already concerned about the effect the crisis will have on their grades, and job prospects. Organisations have varied in their response to graduate recruitment with some cancelling internships while others have shifted courses online and moved start dates to the autumn. [What are the job prospects for the class of 2020? Financial Times, 2020]. The impact on social mobility is also likely to be profound. Making sure your recruitment processes are clear, transparent and fair is the best way you can support new graduates, using psychometrics can help you assess or a range of skills and widen your applicant pool to ensure you don’t miss out on recruiting the best employee for your role.

Can kindness become a new principal in workplace wellbeing?

The new ‘normal’ is only just starting to form, but what is clear, is that kindness or empathy needs to form a greater part of our business processes than ever before. From recruitment and onboarding to learning and development and employee wellbeing – leaders and their teams need to find a way to see that #kindnessmatters on a daily basis – organisations that achieve this may well be models for the future.

Further reading: How to Look After and Support you and your Teams Wellbeing