The coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly led to one of the biggest shake-ups in the corporate world in the last few decades. The workplace has been hit by endless cycles of closures and re-openings, restrictions on indoor capacity and operations, and other disruptions that have altered business in more ways than one. But, with the world gradually returning to normal, employers have met new realities in the workplace, with major paradigm shifts that are redefining business.
Some of the key shifts employers encountered as offices reopened were unoccupied workspaces and mass resignations; the Great Resignation had hit businesses as employees quit their jobs in their millions in search of a better way of working – and living.
According to a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report, the number of Americans quitting their jobs reached record highs in November 2021, when more than 4.5 million people walked off their jobs. Data shows that this number has exceeded pre-pandemic levels for eight months straight.
The great resignation is showing no sign of slowing down and is sweeping through all sectors of the job market at different rates; however, the motivation is the same: employees have forever redefined what "work-life" truly means. Dealing with the loss of family and friends due to the pandemic and the mental health impact of the health crisis forced many workers to rethink their whole life vis-à-vis "work."
Employees no longer want to feel like merely a cog in the wheel of their organization; they want to be part of a team that values them and hears their voice. Employees no longer want to burn out for a paycheck; they want work to experience a wholesome living. Employees no longer want to sacrifice their health, wellness, and safety for the company's bottom line; they want their employers to prioritize their wellness, health, and safety as they do their company's success.
Admittedly, this dissatisfaction with the conventional work model and poor workplace wellness offerings is at the core of the mass resignations shaking up the corporate scene.
So for employers to navigate business amid the great resignation, they need to rethink the demands of the new normal. They need to integrate these key drivers into workplace policies to attract and retain the best talent amid this seismic shift in business.
Rethink Your Work Culture
Work culture dictates how employers perceive and interact with employees. Are employees treated as valuable agents of your corporate success, productivity, and brand, or are they just tools that can be hired and fired to make a profit? Do employees face intense discrimination for their gender or religious and sexual leanings? Is your workplace diverse and big on inclusivity or just a nest of people who look the same way and hold the same beliefs? Are your workplace policies work-centered or employee-centric?
Research shows that many people suffer mental health problems caused by toxic work cultures. According to the American Psychological Association's (APA) Work and Well-Being survey, 79% of employees experienced work-related stress resulting from toxic workplace culture, causing three in five workers to lose motivation and energy at work and leaving 36% of workers with cognitive fatigue. In fact, a new report has shown that toxic workplace culture is ten times more likely to drive employees away regardless of their pay.
So what are your plans to shift the paradigm and build a workplace culture that empowers and values employees?
Building a work culture that thrives in the post-pandemic era requires refocusing on policies and strategies that drive both employee success and corporate success. Therefore, start focusing on how work influences employee well-being and performance and how you can change the dynamics. Focus on making your workplace more diverse and inclusive and open up communication channels to build cohesion and trust. You must begin to integrate values and initiatives that drive employees' personal success while prioritizing appreciation and gratitude for corporate contributions.
Remodel Workplace Wellness
Many workers who have quit their jobs report that employers are not doing enough to prioritize their health and well-being. Following the burden of disease and death that pervaded the COVID-19 pandemic, people became more health-aware, taking every precaution to lower their risk of health issues, particularly chronic diseases. Employees, therefore, are now more unwilling to return to workplaces without strong structures to improve their health and well-being.
So, how effective and useful are your current wellness initiatives? Are your well-being initiatives meeting health and well-being indicators? Is your office making employees healthier or sacrificing employee well-being to achieve success?
It is time to remodel your wellness initiatives to build a healthier workforce. For instance, in today's world of more hybrid and remote work models, you need to integrate more virtual wellness initiatives for your health program to be effective. Offer your workers more virtual health solutions, including virtual fitness classes, webinars, mindfulness classes, and access to virtual care, to meet them where they are.
For your onsite workforce, you want to make wellness more visible. Create a "wellness zone" in your workplace where workers can engage in group exercises, take naps, or even practice yoga. You could also bring in personal trainers to take your employees through individualized workouts for a more productive session.
Employees need mental health offerings now more than ever. Stress, anxiety, and burnout are at an all-time high, and work-life balance is at an all-time low. If your workplace wellness strategies do not offer robust mental health support, employees may turn the other way. Leverage solutions and platforms, including digital mental health platforms and employee assistance programs, to ensure mental well-being is adequately supported in your workplace.
Safeguard Employee Health
Safety is one of the burning needs of the post-COVID-19 workforce. Employers have prioritized their physical and emotional safety following the anxieties and fears that came with the pandemic. Essentially, no employee wants to return to an office that increases their anxiety about COVID-19.
With many variants and sub-variants emerging, one sure-fire way to attract and retain the best talents is to ensure your work environment is safe. A 2020 PwC survey found that employees want to see concrete workplace safety measures (including safety and hygiene measures for customers, a clear emergency response policy, and a modified workplace layout to limit droplet spread) before returning to work.
Employers are now gradually being drawn to these pointers and changing the narrative of safety and health at the workplace.
Building the right workplace safety and health protocol requires equipping your HR leaders with the requisite training in and knowledge of COVID-risk mitigation, integrating vital initiatives into your work operations to limit the spread of the virus.
One way to get this done is to create a clear and workable policy that promotes a COVID-19-free work environment. For instance, implement regular deep cleaning of office surfaces, modify your HVAC systems to improve ventilation and lower potential aerosol spread, and create a clear and effective emergency response plan to care for people with symptoms or who test positive for COVID-19.
The pandemic is still on, and HR leaders need to be equipped with the right information to navigate COVID-19 prevention in the workplace. However, the focus should be beyond COVID-19 and include strategies to prevent future pandemics.
Creating clear policies that answer these questions ranks you as an employer that is committed to keeping workers safe amid the pandemic.
GHA For Business
Undoubtedly, these unrivaled times for the corporate world require new skills and tools to attract and retain the best talents and keep business operations optimal. Global Healthcare Accreditation launched GHA For Business to achieve this goal for organizations. Packed with 16 elements that help business leaders rethink and rebuild their culture, employee wellness policies, and vision, GHA For Business equips organizations with the requisite tools to become more resilient and prioritize safety, health, and well-being. The seal and accreditation demonstrate to employees and clients that an organization is committed to their personal growth and success and their safety, health, and well-being.
GHA For Business offers the tools, procedures, protocols, and training required to address the growing demand for health and safety in the workplace and navigate the uncertain landscape of the corporate world. From COVID-19 risk mitigation strategies to tools to attract, retain, and engage the best talents in the industry, GHA For Business is the new gold-standard framework for a thriving post-pandemic organization.