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Re -imagining the workplace

Nigel Chimhofu
“IN all senses, organisations cannot afford to be in bidding wars for talent.

There is a limit to what an organisation can pay.”

Most employees have left their organisations due to issues of inadequate financial rewards and this has become the universal truth for most millennials.

However, organisations cannot afford (in all senses) to engage in a bidding war for talent.

There is a limit to what an organisation can pay and, while compensation may be the strongest single driver of employer of choice, it does not work in isolation.

If a candidate is choosing between organisations offering similar financial incentives, other factors come into play.

Understanding these factors as a package will help employers attract and retain talent.

The pandemic acted as a catalyst by not only bringing to light issues like work life balance, burnout and mental health but giving the workforce power to speak out and be heard, which led to a paradigm shift within organisations in terms of how work is being done and even altering nature of the workforce.

Employee welfare concerns that were culminating in the background have been unearthed by the effects of Covid-19 in the workplace.

Henceforth there is need for employers to attract and retain talent by focusing on these key areas:

Coaches/mentors
The company image portrayed by company executives during the induction of new employees has less impact on them compared to the image of the company portrayed through the grapevine.

How existing employees present the company to new employees can either result in a motivated or demotivated employee.

Rather than leaving new employees at the mercy of office grapevine,  organisations can assign coaches/mentors to each new employee, who are able to address all the needs of the employees.

Inductions by HR are not as effective as a continuous process of being aligned with the organisation and integrated into its corporate culture.

We have observed that loyalty to an employer is driven by understanding and support rendered to the employee in their career and life ambitions, as well as the provision of opportunities to progress and become future leaders.

Having a mentor is incredibly powerful in this regard. Mentorship benefits are two way.

Mentees will receive great career advice and mentors will be investing their strength within the organisation.

Based on a millennial survey we conducted, 83% of the respondents were likely to develop more loyalty to the organisation if mentorship opportunities were available.

Furthermore, employees that have mentors within theirorganisations are unlikely to leave the organisations untimely as the mentors will show their mentees how to navigate workplace challenges.

This does not present any new cost to the organisation.

It is only a matter of identifying individuals in the organisation who are passionate about the organisation and the development of their subordinates or juniors and providing their mentees with the following:

Work life balance (explained in detail below)
Assistance with any other issues that may have direct impact on the performance of the employees
Work life balance
Essentially, worklife balance seeks to express that work must be done and life must be lived.

From the perspective of an employer, it is making sure the business growth is preserved and at the same time, employees are not suffering from burnout.

From the employee perspective, it is advancing the needs of your organisation and at the same time maintaining a personal life.

The big question will be, “how can this balance be struck?”and“who is responsible to ensure a balance is met?”
The work life balance subject is not only the responsibility of the employee, but rather a collective responsibility with the employer needing to create an environment that promotes work life balance.

The employer can do the following as way of promoting work life balance:
Healthy working hours (adjusting the overtime policy).

In most cases, employees need to work overtime to complete certain assignments and meet the deadlines.

It is in working these long hours that burnouts sprout. Some may then say,“are we suggesting that people must not work overtime?”
Never.

Rather the most important question must be, “what should be the maximum number of overtime hours that should be allowed per each employee?”
In cases where the hours are not controlled, some employees end up working more than they can take, resulting in burn outs.

At the end of the day, deadlines are being met at the expense of the most important resource of any organisation — its people.

l would suggest that the entity must ascertain a maximum number of hours that employees are allowed to work per day and per each work.

It must be an entity’s policy that no employee is allowed stretch above certain hours.

Of course, coming up with the maximum hours is a process that must include contributions from everyone that is within the value chain process.

The hours must address these two vital aspects: success of the business and keeping the employees healthy.

For the process to be effective, one of the key success factors is the commitment by leadership to ensure that employees adhere to the approved maximum hours.

Furthermore, the entity must have a mandatory leave policy. This can be based on the cycle of the business, whereby leave days are taken off season.

The major point is to simultaneously drive business growth while maintaining content employees. A company is as healthy as its employees.

Mental health awareness
Essentially, employers need to increase awareness of mental health issues.

This is done by educating employees on how to identify the symptoms of mental health issues and educate service line managers on how to identify employees that maybe suffering from it.

The organisation can host mental health awareness workshops for its employees as well as try to make efforts towards reducing stigmatisation surrounding mental illness in the workplace.

This shows commitment of the organisation in keeping its employees healthy, which may have an impact on the entity ability to retain people

Conclusion
Whilst financial incentives work as a great motivator, they do not work in isolation.

It is imperative that organisations work to introduce non-financial incentives.

These come at a low cost to an organization but carry significant weight in boosting the overall morale of employees.

  • Chimhofu is an auditor at Deloitte and Touché, Harare. — nigelchimhofu@gmail.com/www.nigelalbert.co.zw

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