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New chances to get it right post COVID – 4 tips to building a holistic workplace and attracting top talent

by Cheryl Benadie, CEO, Whole Person Academy

Old Mutual Masterclass series1

 

This pandemic has forcibly removed the figurative workplace masks we all knew we were hiding behind: pretending that we were ok with the collective notion that work was a place went to, instead of something we did that felt meaningful and fulfilling.

Before COVID-19, 85% of the global workforce was disengaged in their jobs, proving that what we felt in the workplace was pressure to perform instead of enjoying the pleasure of accomplishment.

We now accept that the previous system was broken, resulting in a feeling of disconnection. The good news is that we still have the power to rewrite the script and make things whole again. Embracing wholeness at work requires a shift from the disjointed, once a year wellness day that barely touch the surface of employee needs.

Relationships, career, finances – we call it the wholeness triad – it is all interlinked in the way that people show up in the world of work. Who people are in their personal lives mirror the way they interact in their professional relationships. The way people manage their personal finances has a direct effect on the levels of financial stress they experience, which ultimately impacts their work performance.

There is no escaping this: who we are shows up in the workplace and with the blurring of personal and professional lives due to enforced remote work, we are at a pivotal time in history to make intentional shifts that will ultimately impact the longevity of our organisations.

What will it take to cultivate wholesome work in your organisation?

  1. Courageous leadership: This is a time for a rise in servant leadership – senior executives who approach their leadership roles as a responsibility to serve, not a title to abuse. Cultivating wholeness at work, which involves the process of integrating personal and professional lives so that there is a growing congruency, requires servant leadership.

Employees are flailing. A recent TransUnion study revealed that nearly 8 out of 10 (78%) South Africans are struggling financially due to the impact of the Covid-19 crisis. Helping employees to deal with this financial stress will demonstrate an inclination to support the whole person in the workplace and will go a long way in enhancing engagement in current roles.

  1. Turn the flywheel: The Flywheel effect is a concept developed in Jim Collin’s book Good to Great. Being consistent at doing the work that is really needed to shift organisational culture will eventually lead to building internal momentum “until a point of breakthrough, and beyond.”

What is needed at this time is thoughtful and intentional transformation, which only really comes by working inside out. There are no ‘sexy’ shortcuts to building a great organisation – it requires a clear focus on building the people that are the ‘living’ stones of your organisation.

  1. Commit to continual employee development: The emerging generation of employees, both Millennials and GenZs, want employees to not just say they care about mental health but also have policies in place that prove it.

Investment in continual training and development at all stages of the employee life cycle is needed to cross skill, upskill or reskill employees, helping them to navigate the ever-changing demands of the evolving marketplace.

  1. Invite employees to be co-creators: The latent potential for creativity and innovation lies in the people already working in your organisation. Creating a compelling vision that aligns with the values of the individual taps into deep levels of intrinsic motivation.

Most people want to make a difference at work, they want to feel like their work matters, they want to know that what they contribute is valuable. It might be ‘messy’ to allow all the voices in the organisation to be heard but allowing employees to bring their whole selves to work will have profound and surprising results.

Employers who embrace the revolutionary idea of cultivating wholeness at work will become more focused on who the employee is becoming in the doing of their work and will ultimately build holistic workplaces that will attract top talent.

 

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