Written in collaboration with Chas Fields, HCM Strategic Consultant for Kronos.
One of the many things we’ve learned over these past two months is that we can operate and manage our business despite the hardships we’re facing – it just requires flexible thinking and for business leaders, organizations, and employees to come together and lean on one another to keep moving forward. In many ways, HR leaders are the connecting thread that allows this to happen. We’ve already talked about HR’s importance in terms of shifting expectations to fit the now-saturated job market and making strategic upskilling and reskilling choices to maximize limited resources. Now it’s time to turn to how HR can build practical policies around key areas impacting employees like mental health, productivity, and burnout.
Keeping a pulse on the organization is especially important during these difficult times and recognizing when to address issues is the first step HR can take to nurture employees. HR leaders play a key role in monitoring data around and providing steps to ensure the retention of talent and improving the employee experience. Here are 3 functional areas where you can take proactive steps toward nurturing your workforce.
1. Mental health
Protecting your employees' mental health can be a challenging task, especially when disruption happens. Unchecked mental health difficulties can create an unhealthy work environment for the employee, their co-workers and your customers. HR leaders play a critical role in nurturing the employee's well-being and creating a safe environment for employees to feel comfortable in seeking help and support for mental health related issues.
Trust is the cornerstone to building an environment where employees feel comfortable opening up and sharing their concerns. When HR is communicating regularly with employees about how they can get support, it breaks down barriers. Giving voice to and acknowledging issues like stress at work, imbalance between work and life, or other well-being topics can create an environment where employees feel safer discussing their challenges and seeking help.
When an employee is dealing with stress it can wreak havoc on their physical and mental well-being. Here are some suggestions to help you look at potential approaches your organization can use to reduce employee stress and promote mental health:
- Offer an unlimited vacation policy that allows employees to care for themselves, children and family members.
- Offer flexible work schedules to help employees when unplanned issues arise.
- Offer an employee assistance program (EAP) so your employees can get support with mental health issues.
- Offer a wellness program that promotes mental, physical and emotional well-being.
- Offer resources from public or third-party providers for additional support.
If your company doesn’t currently offer programs that promote well-being, now may be the time to open the lines of communication and develop a strategy to better support your employees’ mental health.
Many things we used to face on a day-to-day basis are now different, from how businesses operate to how jobs are being performed. If employees don’t have a clear understanding of what’s expected of them, it can have a negative impact on their productivity. Setting clear guidelines around work standards for various onsite and remote employees is a good first step to ensuring a productive work environment. When employees are well-informed about expectations and have the proper training and tools required to perform their jobs, they’ll achieve better results.
HR leaders can help create a culture in which employees understand how their performance impacts the business. Here are some areas where you can develop the employee experience and drive productive business outcomes:
- Ensure employees are engaged: When an employee is disengaged it can quickly lead to high turnover or high absenteeism. Pulse surveys are a great way to understand what’s happening with your workforce and areas that need improvement so you can take appropriate action.
- Create a culture of trust: Organizations that don't have strong work cultures often have lower productivity than those with employees that feel that their work has value. As we mentioned earlier when discussing mental health, creating a culture where employees trust leadership and the direction the company is going in is key. Mobile-friendly HR technology can help here as it gives employees deeper access to the pieces of information they care about, which brings us to our next recommendation.
- Offer self-service: To elaborate on the previous point, it’s frustrating for employees when they are not be able to get access to information. Offering self-service tools that can be accessed on any device can help keep employees engaged and productive. When employees and managers have immediate access to check and adjust schedules, punch in and out, handle time-off requests, review paychecks, enroll in/check benefits, and get insights into people data trends, they can thrive.
- Set clear and achievable performance goals: Setting goals will help provide employees gain motivation needed to complete their tasks. When goals are clearly defined, HR leaders and managers can assess how employees are doing and identify if employees need additional training or support. Furthermore, performance goals can play a key role in identifying strong contributors so they can be recognized for their accomplishments.
- Recognize and reward employees: Tracking everyday work can provide a true picture into an employee’s overarching accomplishments and show just how much they’ve done. This alone can make your employees feel supported and valued.
Implementing a strategy to improve the employee experience by ensuring employees have a good understanding of what’s expected of them and helping them feel like their work is meaningful and fulfilling can result in a highly engaged and productive workforce.
Because employees are a company’s greatest asset, it’s important to quickly and accurately track and predict if certain employees are likely to be experiencing fatigue or burnout. When an employee is overworked, doesn’t get enough breaks during shifts, or doesn’t sleep enough between shifts, they may be putting not just themselves but the company at risk.
Many employees may call in sick to get the rest they need or worse yet, leave the company all together. Here are some ways HR leaders and managers can help identify if an employee is at risk of burnout:
- Monitor schedules: Providing intuitive scheduling tools can help identify, monitor, and minimize the events that trigger burnout. This system helps ensure that employees have adequate breaks and rest periods to avoid excessive stress and fatigue – even automating any compliance rules your organization may need to follow around how often employees can work. In addition, offering flexible or self-scheduling options will give employees a say in their schedules, and can help them find better balance between work, life, and rest.
- Monitor training and skills required for jobs being performed: Keep your employees safe by only scheduling them for jobs for which they are trained or for which they have the skills required. It’s important to have tools that help determine whether an employee is qualified to do an assigned job in order to maintain safety and productivity. By using technology to track qualifications, companies can ensure that employees have the right skills and certifications needed to perform the work they’re doing.
- Manage overtime effectively: Employees who work overtime continuously and for an extended period might, in fact, be less productive and are at higher risk of burnout. Providing equal opportunities for overtime and applying policies consistently across the workforce will ensure that the workload is managed effectively. Having insight into time keeping and employee hours can ensure you have the correct staffing in place to control unnecessary overtime.
Conclusion: HR can inspire people with the right tools
When it comes to managing and nurturing an inspired workforce, a human capital management (HCM) cloud solution can be your most valuable asset. With a single source of data, HR leaders and managers are empowered to keep their employees mentally healthy, drive productivity, and ensure employees are not at risk for burnout.
If you’d like to understand more about the moments that matter most to your employees, we’ve got you covered. Check out this ebook to learn more about the ways HR technology can help you focus on what your people care about most and build an employee experience that makes your organization stand out.