BRISBANE, 10 September 2020 – There’s never been a more important moment for Australian businesses to embrace the spirit of R U OK Day and schedule regular wellbeing check-ins with their employees, says Brisbane-based people management leader, intelliHR.
Six months into COVID-19, and with nearly half of all workers still working from home according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, employee mental health and wellbeing has never been higher on the agenda for the country’s business leaders.
Unfortunately, with an unprecedented number of people working remotely, it has become much more difficult for companies to judge where support services may be needed. It is no longer possible for managers to take the pulse of a team by simply walking the floor.
intelliHR’s platform, used by 20,000 people daily, suggests the morale of most workers has held up remarkably well to-date. But the company says analysis of de-identified data shows many are struggling with the many changes the pandemic has wrought.
“It has long been said people are the greatest asset of any organisation. COVID-19 is the biggest threat we’ve seen to the health of that asset,” said Rob Bromage, intelliHR’s founder and chief executive officer.
“Asking ‘R U OK?’ needs to become business as usual for individual managers. Just as importantly, it needs to be done across organisations in a systematic way that provides a real-time line of sight to potential issues for their CEO and leadership team,” he said.
“Unfortunately, many organisations lack a mechanism to measure employee wellbeing, let alone manage it. Use of tools like Zoom and Slack have boomed during the pandemic but they’re not designed to provide a dashboard on employee morale,” he said.
When firms switched to remote working in March most were hopeful it was a temporary measure. Even in June it seemed a general return to the office might be feasible soon. But recent events, especially in Victoria, have shown we’re in for a marathon, not a sprint.
Fortunately, there’s cause for optimism, intelliHR says. Last month its 2020 Strategic HR Survey reported three-out-of-four organisations were actively monitoring employee wellbeing, most via email, and half said they had a wellbeing plan in place to manage it.
It also found people management leaders within Australian organisations now regard employee mental health wellbeing as the top priorities for HR teams, well ahead of traditional responsibilities like performance management and on-boarding.
“That’s encouraging,” Mr Bromage said. “Not too long ago, topics like employee engagement and wellbeing were fringe issues in management circles. This year has brought them front and centre and demonstrated to everyone that they’re critical for productivity.”
IntelliHR is advising organisations to take a three-step approach to managing employee engagement and wellbeing:
Find a system. Employee engagement platforms, performance management systems and even some HR information systems have wellbeing check-ins which make it easier for HR to keep a finger on the pulse of the workplace at scale and in real time.
Have a plan and commit a set, regular amount of time to it. The goal of HR teams should be to flatten the curve on fatigue from the disruptive effects of the pandemic. Make the time to regularly ensure you’re not missing anything important.
Monitor and adapt. If there is one thing the events of the last six months have proven it is the old adage no plan survives contact with the enemy. Planning is a cyclical process, not a one-off, and needs to be revisited as circumstances change.
intelliHR (ASX: IHR) is an Australian HR technology business which has developed a next-generation cloud-based people management and data analytics platform. Our aim is to become an essential core platform for every business to manage their talent providing the necessary tools to align, manage and enable a ‘people and culture strategy’ within a company’s broader business strategy.