Enable workplace autonomy to attract and retain talent in the new normal

Due to the pandemic, more and more individuals have started prioritising their personal and domestic needs, health, and well-being over work.

The world calls it ‘the new normal’, but hardly anything has been normal in the past eighteen months. Changes brought on by the global health pandemic have been swift and transformative. But like most crises, it has given us a new perspective on both our personal and professional lives.

Apart from focusing more on their health and well-being, people have realised how remote working can be as productive as working from an office setting. This new realisation has paved the way for an improved work environment set to change the global work culture drastically.

Out of the significant workplace changes that have emerged, the increased demand and need for employee autonomy overshadows everything else. More and more individuals have started prioritising their personal and domestic needs, health, and well-being over work. 

If their current organisations do not respect their beliefs and space, employees are more than willing to move on and associate with those that value their terms and autonomy.

The improved work culture changes should include the freedom to shape one’s own work schedule, maintain a work-life balance, and take out time for family while focusing on personal development.

Against this backdrop, here is what organisations can do to ensure an autonomous work culture and attract and retain skilled professionals looking for better career opportunities.

Prioritise employee well-being as well as personal time and space

According to research, an average Indian works for close to 2,117 hours per year, which is significantly higher than developed countries like the United States, the UK, and Japan. Indians are known for working overtime without paying heed to their personal needs, physical, and mental health.

But today, people have realised the value of focusing on mental and physical health over everything else in its wake. Most people understand that undue job-related stress will only serve to aggravate an already stressful situation.

Employees are now more concerned regarding their health and family than their company or work, and want their business leaders to prioritise safety and well-being.

The message is crystal clear. Modern organisations need to reinvent their policies and rules to suit the present needs and requirements. Businesses can no longer expect people to prioritise work over themselves or their families.

It is now crucial that the HR department maintain a consistent and transparent dialogue with the employees regarding practices and policies to look after their well-being and other essential needs.

These include increased flexibility in working hours, paid leave for COVID-positive individuals, upskilling/reskilling programmes for employees to stay up to date with modern practices, and an extra day off to reduce screen time, among others.

Create a diverse and inclusive workplace

The pandemic has pushed people to question many of society’s inequalities and find ways to create a better life for everyone. Big corporations and business leaders worldwide have therefore started openly discussing previously taboo topics such as the need for gender and racial equality in workplaces, equal pay for all, and mental health of the employees.

Organisations should also look at providing flexible work for parents of both genders while focusing on Issues like equal gender representation for a leadership position, ensuring equal maternity and paternity leave, and bridging the gender pay gap.

Ensuring a diverse and inclusive workforce takes time, dedication, and continued evolution of practices covering every department from hiring to policy implementation. Change is not the responsibility of one individual but the whole organisation.

A positive transformation can only be achieved when the HR and the leadership work together to support and build the right employee-centric environment that reinforces positive social and cultural values.

Build a learning-oriented organisation

In today's increasingly digital-first age, working professionals are increasingly relying on online learning to aid their learning and development. Since March 2020, Skillsoft has seen a whopping 351 percent increase in the content accessed and a 258 percent increase in the learning hours consumed across its various platforms.

At the same time, there has been a 55 percent increase in the number of online courses accessed around the world, majorly in courses related to virtual working, leadership and stress management, tools for online collaboration, agile practices, and increasing perseverance and resilience.

The most effective way to encourage continuous learning, upskilling/reskilling is to make every individual responsible for their personal development and growth. Organisations can then endeavor to provide a conducive environment that supports and builds upon that specific knowledge to benefit both the employee and company.

The importance of remote working and the growing need for employees to utilise the workplaces for self-development need to be given a place where it can grow.

Besides this, the pandemic's social and cultural demands can only be met by ensuring overall flexibility and diversity across all verticals, from top leadership and executive to online learning and employee benefits. 

Edited by Megha Reddy

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)


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