Gaining a holistic understanding of employees' different interests and concerns, and providing a timely response that includes reasonable support, occupies center stage. Data is driving better decisions by senior leadership — because facts add a degree of objectivity and a level of detail that define better actions. What leadership hears from listening to the employee voice also carries more meaning.
Listening, understanding and responding holistically to employee expectations for flexible benefits
Perhaps one of the greatest gains from integrated employee wellbeing practices, especially lately, is insight into the shortcomings of separately communicated benefits and policies. This traditional approach to connecting with the workforce can create a disjointed and potentially devalued experience.
From the employee's perspective, benefits, policies and culture all interconnect — an association that reflects the employer's understanding of employees' needs related to physical, emotional, career and financial wellbeing. That's why it's important to integrate strategies and confirm that all elements of a solution are complementary.
Individualized and customizable total rewards solutions are becoming a competitive prerequisite to offering the flexibility and diversity that employees may soon take for granted. This solution starts with determining a range of options that addresses a variety of employee situations and continues with education about their options and assistance in finding the best match for their personal circumstances.
As a regular practice, actively listening to employees and thoroughly considering what they have to say continuously improve workforce management efforts and results. Identifying and asking good questions on topics of shared interest, relevant to the wellbeing of both the workforce and the organization, tends to evoke answers that inspire better solutions.
Leaders and managers will also want to understand the intent behind the priorities of their employees and what success looks like to them in order to respond effectively to interests and concerns. Synchronized listening to the voice of the customer and executive leadership, along with the employee, provides information that aligns current strategies and goals to produce optimal results.
Translating current data and insights into timely, informed and effective results
Recent, robust and objective data inform successful workforce management strategies. Employee data age more quickly in an environment where turnover is high and job changes are prevalent. When accuracy is in doubt, it pays to either repeat or supplement a survey with other information resources.
The backing of the C-suite critically influences the strategic success of organizational wellbeing, and engaging senior leaders in the design process makes securing that support much more likely. Transparent use of listening channels or other methods to understand what's on the minds of employees strengthens their trust, as long as the input employers receive is followed up by evidence that demonstrates the employers truly care.
Worse than not listening at all is listening without taking action. So employers need a sense of urgency when translating their insights into visible action that clearly and appropriately responds to employee needs.
Capitalizing on the power of technology to deliver a more efficient process and better results
An extensive variety of platforms is available to accelerate information gathering and enhance two-way communication with employees. Virtual town halls provide just one example of technology-enabled solutions whose popularity has grown over the past two years (34%). Commonly, employers also use engagement surveys (54%), employee pulse surveys (25%) and focus group sessions (23%) to collect data and gain insights for their workforce management strategies.1
Employers can capitalize on the capabilities of tools like these to systematically identify opportunities and streamline their efforts to enhance organizational wellbeing. Findings should bring more insight into the exact nature of a problem employees face and the types of solutions that will likely have the desired impact. For senior leaders, this added clarity helps them make sense of different perspectives among key stakeholders, supporting consensus on solutions.
As an example of taking a strategic approach to workforce management, one organization used a technology solution to solve a persistent recruitment challenge. A workforce analysis had uncovered difficulty in attracting entry-level employees. This discovery led to the conclusion that adding certain benefits and other offerings geared to the group's predominant age range would better meet their needs. They investigated what the group wanted most from an employer, designed a package accordingly and then measured the results.
Only 5% of their workforce was under age 30 in 2014; that group made up 11.5% in 2021.2 If sustained, this upswing would deliver several advantages to the organization. In particular, it would deliver a strong tenure rate several years down the road, for employees who are more engaged and connected means less time spent on recruiting and training and more time invested in promoting from within.
Other employers that seriously commit to more active and agile workforce management will position themselves for similarly significant value. Enhancing employee trust promotes an environment of psychological safety, which helps fuel innovation and increases organizational wellbeing. Usually, this translates into any number of progress markers such as lower healthcare costs, fewer safety incidents and reduced absenteeism rates. Add to that higher retention rates and increased wellbeing among employees — and the net gain is better operating and organizational outcomes.