How to help your employees thrive


October 6, 2016

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Recent statistics highlight that Australian employees are not necessarily thriving.

In the financial services industry, one in three suffer from mental health issues. This is significantly higher than the general population average of one in five.

In order to tackle this, we need to look at what is going on in our own firms. As organisations we have a role to play to help employees, both men and women, work and thrive.

The key is a careful balance of defining what success looks like, improving resilience and focussing on creating the right culture.

ASSESSING THE REAL BOTTOM LINE

At the heart of the financial services industry is on overarching purpose that can sometimes get lost. Financial services is centred around helping individuals set themselves up for a better financial future. In the case of insurance, our mission is to protect people’s lifestyles.

A tendency to focus on quarterly P&L results can sometimes detract from that real bottom line. The financial services industry is here to look after the financial security of others; first and foremost, that’s our responsibility. If we get that right, healthy profits should follow.

If, as an industry we re-define what success really looks like: whether that’s making a product simpler to understand, easier to use or helping an individual to protect their lifestyle, we can get more out of our roles and make a real difference to our customers’ lives.

IMPROVE RESILIENCE

Organisations need to have the resources available to get the most of every individual, and to harness their employees’ characters and energy effectively. Both men and women can bring different forms of energy to their roles. Organisations need to work out how to make the most out of both.

Building resilience is fundamental to ensure that individuals are thriving. People with higher levels of resilience tend to recover more quickly from negative situations and are better able to use coping mechanisms. At an organisational level, that translates to higher productivity and morale.

A decent work life balance is essential not only for a productive workplace but in supporting health. Organisations should find ways to encourage and support their employees to find time for themselves including  spending time with their families or having time to try and keep fit.

While technology can bring benefits by allowing more employees to work flexibly, it can also be detrimental to health, with more and more of us working around the clock. Offering employees the option of choosing a designated ‘shut down from technology’ time each week could be one way to support a healthy work-life balance. Simple steps such as implementing a ‘no emails after 7pm’ outlines habits and behaviours that will contribute to finding that essential balance.

CREATE THE RIGHT CULTURE

A collaborative, supportive leadership culture can work to foster a clear vision and strategy but it is also key to creating an environment where people can thrive. Some key elements to consider include:

  • Setting out clear expectations of what the organisation considers ‘leadership behaviour’, which can come from anyone, at any level.
  • Hiring the right people. Often financial services organisations pay too much attention to technical skills and not enough to cultural fit. It’s difficult to train people to have the right attitude, so incorporating a ‘hiring for attitude and training for aptitude’ approach can help create a foundation for a leadership culture.
  • Calling out unacceptable staff behaviour regardless of whether this is customer facingor within the organisation.

The right culture will help support a high performing team but it needs to be both inclusive and supportive. If you encourage colleagues to bring their whole self to work – their heart, as well as their head – you will be on the right path to creating a great culture.