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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 organizations, which were simply surviving in 2020, that a shift in priorities to make employee well-being central instead of secondary can help them thrive in 2021 and beyond.

Good employee health goes beyond just being 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 organizations that are 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, making people feel included, respected and supported so that they can deliver their best performance.

So, how do organizations implement a successful framework to support the workplace of the future?

The expectations of today’s workers are far more nuanced than in the past, and implementing the right technology solutions, underpinned by an employee-centric strategy, requires specific engagement and performance drivers. These include organizational trust derived from culture, values and behaviors; commitment to co-workers even as they endure high levels of disruption in their work and home environments; and the right capabilities comprising an employee’s comprehension, agility, network, direction and expectations that can help them navigate changes arising from disruption.

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. Everyone – employees and customers – win when HR takes cognizance and seeks out ways to match those assets to the employee experience.

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 center 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 says about your people

Technology is the 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 organization and its people. It connects the factors relating to human motivation, awareness, consciousness, decision-making and leadership behaviors to accelerate performance.

A recent NTT Intelligent Workplace Report found that 92% of organizations 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 information technology policies 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 workplace experiences are now influenced by so much more – from the technology they are using to transformed leadership, company culture, capitalizing on unique human strengths, and giving them the same experiences as if they were face to face with their peers.

Our experiences and cultural drivers within Dimension Data have led us to invest in equitable wellness programs that address individuals’ unique needs and struggles. We have built support programs that focus on the wellbeing of our employees, such as specific wellness days and employee assistance initiatives 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 our people and providing the right support is allowing us to truly understand what employees view as the “true benefits” of an organization.

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 organizations.

An HXM journey begins with a shift in focus toward wellbeing, but it doesn’t end there. Wellness is a key concept for continuity and customer experience. By giving employees the tools, knowledge and experiences that they need to succeed, HR strategies can dovetail with the efforts of their sales and marketing colleagues.

As we make strides into new levels of normal, organizations must initiate a discernible shift from simply supporting HR-driven processes to HXM, creating sustainably engaged brand advocates with the mindsets and the tools required to deliver the results needed to thrive.

Michaela Voller is Chief Human Resources Officer at Dimension Data

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