Using Empathy to Align Culture And Wellbeing

Employee wellbeing contributes to a thriving workplace culture. But true employee wellbeing is more than just healthy people. It means helping employees feel their best, do their best, and bring their most authentic selves to work. Organisations must be places where employees feel a sense of purpose and belonging; a place that offers connections and creates MomentsThatMatter.

So how can this be achieved?

Acknowledge and support pain points

Create employee experiences with empathy in mind. Organisations who have achieved this rely on data to understand and support their people. They ask creative questions to gain actionable insights into their employees’ daily experience in order to truly understand them. They don’t ignore pain points and they don’t always try to eradicate them (often they’re an unavoidable downside to the industry or role in question). By being upfront and honest when addressing employee issues, organisations can foster trust, value and empathy. 

Take for example, the below experience of a group of customer contact centre agents who participated in a MomentsThatMatter initiative.

Key pain points were identified as:

  • a lack of autonomy over their workday
  • high stress from call volumes and customer complaints
  • feeling undervalued by their employer

Although their organisation provides a vast library of health and wellbeing programs participation rates were low and many of the employees reported that they felt the programs were not for them due to the lack of autonomy across their working day. By applying design thinking principals to the above pain points, micro-casts were introduced to this group covering topics such as stress, sleep, resilience and more. Agents were provided time from their direct managers to step away, listen to the short podcast and complete the corresponding micro-learning. By acknowledging and addressing the identified pain points agents felt included and more valued, wellbeing indicators went up and turnover significantly went down.

Don't eat the whole elephant

Many times you don’t have to eat the whole elephant. Small tweaks can make a huge difference to a healthy culture when combined with real learnings about the employee experience. Often, these tweaks are simple, cost effective and scalable. The key is having the right insights. An example of this are the B2L manager nudges. Team feedback powers hyper-personalised, science based micro-actions that are nudged to people leaders to effect behaviour change right in the flow of work. By focussing on leaders we can make a wider impact on the entire team and positively alter their experiences and interactions across the working day. 

Consider effectiveness, set objectives and intentionally shape culture

If creating a healthier workforce is the goal, it’s crucial to consider effectiveness against a predetermined set of objectives. Often, we see companies doing what they believe is right, without measuring the success of the approach against the original objective.

For example, the world of advertising and media is notorious for a work hard, play hard culture, resulting in long hours, an always-on mentality and at worst burnout. An advertising agency we worked revealed their engagement surveys had uncovered high stress and sedentary lifestyles as a pain point for their people when it came to looking after their health. Based on this insight the organisation provided their people with access to a local gym as a way to promote exercise. This approach did not take into account that these employees already had a benefit rich environment and the addition of what was viewed as another perk was actually ineffective in addressing the pain points identified. Why? Because it wasn’t cost or easy access that was stopping people from exercising it was work commitments and lack of time.  

Measuring against the 3 E’s

When considering workplace wellbeing solutions we apply our 3 E framework. Every touchpoint within our digital tools and platforms must pass this test:

Is it easy for the employee?

Is it empathetic to their pain points?

Is it effective in hitting the predefined objective?

Take away

Employee experience and company culture need to be included in any wellbeing strategy if it is to be effective in deliering outcomes. Think of this as redefining the meaning of holistic wellbeing. When brought together these elements uncover the sweet spot in mental resilience, health and sustainable performance. 

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