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Mental wellness and the role human experience management plays in a thriving workplace

05 October 2021

Now is the time to break away from the traditional way of thinking when it comes to employee experience and provide innovative tools and technology that enable meaningful, productive and personal employee experiences to drive businesses to sustainable long-term success, writes Michaela Voller, Chief Human Resources Officer

Touted as one of the most pressing HR challenges of 2021, business leaders have had to readjust their focus to the holistic wellbeing of their employees, with mental wellness becoming the number one priority. A reset of strategies and modified HR policies is showing those businesses, who were simply surviving in 2020, that a shift in priorities to make employee well-being central instead of secondary can lead to thriving in 2021, and beyond.

Good employee health, goes far beyond just being simply good for business. But, between the stress of the pandemic and the isolation of working from home, as well as a general feeling of fatigue, it’s easy to see why employee morale and productivity may be hitting an all-time low. For companies just wading into the wellbeing waters it can be difficult to know where to begin. The key is not in coddling employees, but rather in enabling them to be more productive, engaged, innovative and resilient. To inspire a shift in culture where people feel included, respected and supported so that they can deliver their best performance.

So how do organisations implement a successful framework to better support the workplace of the future? The expectations of today’s workers are far more nuanced than in the past, so implementing the right technology solutions, underpinned by an employee-centric strategy requires specific drivers of engagement and performance. These include organisational trust derived from culture, values and behaviours, commitment to co-workers even as they endure high levels of disruption in both their work and home environments and the right capabilities which consist of an employee’s comprehension, agility, network, direction and expectations that can help them navigate changes arising out of disruptions. 

Yes, the future of work must be enabled by technology, but it is also inherently human. The more digital the workplace, the more human the experience will need to become. Every person possesses knowledge, competencies, and character qualities that contribute to business success. It is when HR takes cognisance and actively seeks out ways to match those assets to the employee experience, everyone – employees and customers – wins.

1. Redefine the Human in HR

By redefining human capital management (HCM) as human experience management (HXM), HR leaders are putting the employee experience at the centre of the business, and supporting workers with what they require to be engaged, motivated and productive, in addition to their well-being and safety. There is a significant move from data and process workflows to a renewed focus on employee journeys, with an increased need for tools to support communication, collaboration and community. 

2. Understand what the data is saying about your people

Technology is the fundamental cornerstone when it comes to designing the optimal employee experience. Digital transformation in the HR function is just a small representation of how people and technology complement each other. HXM is about leveraging the insights that HCM data offers to create a more respectful and nuanced relationship between the organisation and its people. It connects the factors around human motivation, awareness, consciousness, decision-making and leadership behaviours to accelerate performance. 

A recent Intelligent Workplace Report by NTT Ltd. found that 92% of organisations will be designed around employee enablement that empowers employees with choice and flexibility, 52% have deployed new communication and productivity tools and 35% have changed their IT policy to help employees work within a new operating model. 

3. Understand that Wellness is no longer “just a perk”

We no longer live in a time where employees are influenced by singular factors such as payroll, benefits and perks, or a direct manager. Their work place experiences are now influenced by so much more – from the technology they are using, right through to transformed leadership, capitalising on unique human strengths, company culture and the ability to give them the same experiences they would have if they were face to face with their peers. 

Our own experiences and cultural drivers within Dimension Data have led us to invest in equitable wellness programmes that address individuals’ unique needs and struggles. We have built support programmes that focus on the wellbeing of our employees, such as specific wellness days and employee assistance programmes that provide access to confidential emotional support, legal guidance, financial information and general online support. Wellness goes far beyond just the physical wellbeing of employees, investing in understanding the needs of the staff and providing the right support, is allowing us to truly understand what employees view as the “true benefits” to an organisation. 

A winning strategy for employee engagement is also a win for the customer experience, as they have a direct influence on each other. Every HR innovation and digital advancement is an opportunity to enhance the employee experience, which in turn enhances how customers engage and transact with businesses. An HXM journey begins with a shift in focus towards wellbeing, but it is important to remember that it doesn’t end there. Wellness is a key concept for continuity and customer experience. By giving employees the tools, knowledge, and experiences they need to be successful, HR strategies can dovetail the efforts of their sales and marketing colleagues. 

As we make strides into new levels of normal, organisations must initiate a discernible shift from simply supporting HR-driven processes to Human Experience Management (HXM), creating sustainably engaged brand advocates with both the mindset and the tools required to deliver the results needed to not only survive, but to thrive.