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Post-pandemic world to see companies make positive change

The increase of Millennials and Gen Z has reshaped how companies view traditional workplace culture, while the pandemic has shifted how people view their jobs and what they want out of their workplace



A recent LinkedIn study showed that 40 per cent of professionals choose company culture as a priority when picking a new job - KT file
A recent LinkedIn study showed that 40 per cent of professionals choose company culture as a priority when picking a new job - KT file
by

Rohma Sadaqat

Published: Mon 25 Apr 2022, 5:50 PM

Organisations that are looking to attract the very best of talent are accelerating changes that will help their employees maintain a better work-life balance, experts have highlighted.

These changes include remote or hybrid working models, better support for mental health, as well as a host of new benefits and provisions.

“Each of us spends more hours awake with our work than we do with our family,” said James Michael Lafferty, CEO of Fine Hygienic Holding (FHH). “Take a 24-hour day for example: If we assume seven hours of sleep, then that leaves 17 waking hours in a typical day. If we work for nine or more, then by default work becomes our number one daytime activity. Most people – and most employers don’t realise this – face this situation, so if work is going to be our number one conscious activity, we better provide the right culture for our employees to be immersed!”

“This situation has only accelerated in a post-pandemic world where we see dynamics such as the ‘Great Resignation’ and each of us re-evaluating our priorities and goals,” he explained. “In this environment, culture comes under a microscope. To attract the best employees in this day and age of transparency, companies need to show how serious they are about bringing about positive change.”

Georges Chidiac, CEO of Damana Holding, added that company culture is crucial these days, both to attract new talent as well as retain existing employees. The current workforce market is looking for companies that have nurturing cultures; that care about their employees and add value to them personally and professionally.

“There are many factors affecting the corporate workplace at present,” he said. “The increase of Millennials and Gen Z has reshaped how we view traditional workplace culture while the pandemic has shifted how people view their jobs and what they want out of their workplace. Having that shift from a traditional 9am-5pm to flexible working hours, remote work options, attention to mental health, as well as a healthy work-life balance, are all things that new talent looks for in a potential employer.”

A recent LinkedIn study showed that 40 per cent of professionals choose company culture as a priority when picking a new job. LinkedIn’s research also showed that 60 per cent of professionals consider compensation and benefits a priority when picking a new job, yet 63 per cent value work-life balance.

Chidiac further noted that Gen Z in particular are looking for a culture that is built around understanding mental health and caring for their overall wellbeing. “Covers that are related to mental health have become without a doubt essential in any employee insurance plan. In today’s hyper-connected work environment, individuals ought to be in a state of well-being in which they can cope with everyday stress, be productive, and reach their full potential. It is no longer a taboo to say that help from professionals is required to maintain that state of well-being.”

He also highlighted how location flexibility is shown to result in better employee retention rates as it is more personalised and proves that the company puts their employees’ work-life balance first.

“On the other hand, not all jobs can be done remotely, and many may miss out on opportunities that are important to their work and their progression,” he pointed out. “Having that daily physical interaction with colleagues and clients is indispensable to nurture skills and experience. Not to mention that having that clear distinction between the work life and the home or personal life is critical for an employee to move from one state to the other and start a productive day. It also helps in separating the two, making individuals less likely to get distracted at home, which can be crippling when trying to complete certain tasks or have meetings one after the other.”

“As certain industries cannot function to their full potential without face-to-face interactions, companies are starting to address this by offering employees support in different ways, such as celebrating their achievements with internal award schemes and assisting them with work-life balance, and better understanding their individual needs.”

Lafferty also shared his thoughts on how the Covid-19 pandemic had caused great changes. This shift to benefits beyond work, he said, were in continual acceleration pre-pandemic already, but post-pandemic the acceleration continues albeit in a different direction.

“Pre-pandemic, having on-site facilities such as access to a fitness centre was highly desired. Now we see this waning somewhat in a post-pandemic world and the shift going to more flexible concepts such as hybrid work arrangements. People now want the freedom, when the job allows, to work from home or as we call it, ‘Work From Anywhere’. Obviously, with this kind of shift, the appeal of an on-site wellness centre can lose some of the broad appeal it once enjoyed pre-pandemic,” he explained.

Like Chidiac, he noted that the role of the office should not be tossed aside lightly. “The office is crucial for building a culture - this cannot be done purely on Zoom calls - and meeting face-to-face is a fundamental part of the human experience. So, I believe this needs to remain as a component of the work culture. However, the pandemic did show that certain roles, and certain people, can maintain and even improve productivity via some level of flexible work – working from anywhere.”

He added that the question of flexible work is the current focus and that every company is figuring out their own way forward. “I believe it is here to stay and any progressive company that fundamentally trusts their people will adopt some sort of flexible work set-up. At FHH, we did our homework and also lots of internal reflection. It resulted in us adopting a “three-two” work arrangement, meaning three days in the office, and two days where the employee can work from anywhere. So far, it is working well. I sense we have found the ‘sweet spot’ for most of our people.”

rohma@khaleejtimes.com


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