In this guest post, Bastion Collective’s general manager of people and culture, Edwina Webb (pictured below), argues there is a real opportunity for employers to better understand their staff beyond what they see during work hours.
Work/life balance, flexible work and employee wellbeing are all terms that have been thrown around for nearly a decade now, and progressive companies have no option but to offer this in order to attract and retain great talent. In an effort to drive employee engagement, people and culture (P&C) teams are continually tasked with delivering such strategies. Our role is not only to manage our business’ most valuable resource, but to ensure we create an environment where they thrive.
Throughout my career, I have seen how the function of HR has transformed from one of administration and policy to a more strategic and enabling business partner. Much of this has been driven by the constant evolution and competitiveness of the industry we work in, and the consistent need to attract, connect and retain great talent.
My view is that whilst focusing on creating tools and initiatives to engage employees in their workplace during normal work hours is absolutely necessary, it means very little if it doesn’t extend beyond that. We need focus on how we can empower each person more holistically – not just making them better at their craft, but making them a better person.
I believe there is a real opportunity for employers to better understand their staff – beyond the people they see during working hours. We need to understand each individual as exactly that, an individual – a human being – rather than just an employee that’s here to do their job.
To do this, we need to create an environment that fosters authenticity; an environment that encourages employees to share who they really are. We need to dig a little deeper and find out what drives people; what inspires them. Then, we need to encourage them to take control of their destiny. By letting our employees identify where they want to go and what they want to learn, we can help them become a more well-rounded professional and find their voice.
By going beyond teaching and developing only the skills needed just for ‘the job’, and allowing people to explore their development with their whole self, we can both motivate them as a person and improve them as a professional. When our intern progresses to an account manager, then in turn a senior account manager, it’s a great story. But, if after four years we’ve helped them to develop so much so that it leads them to securing their dream job in another organisation, then we have achieved what we set out to do, and we celebrate that.
Admittedly, this type of strategy may not work in every business, nor is it for everyone. Some people want to go to work, do their job and then go home, and that’s okay. But in my experience, the staff that really shine are the ones who are completely immersed in their job – they are completely connected with their teams, and they fully embody their organisation’s values.
You still need to drive accountability and results for your business, so on-the-job training, upskilling and following process is critical, but layering this with broader growth and development opportunities is when great things happen, and were we see staff realise their potential.
At Bastion, we find that people love what they do because it means something to them; they are fully accountable and they have ownership. Bastion started from small beginnings, and our values today are very much linked to the sense of family, encouragement and connection that was part of our early identity.
It is the responsibility of P&C teams to ensure that as our businesses change and grow, we stay grounded in our values, and that our people share their voice, and are given real opportunities to ‘have a crack’ and develop and deliver great things, regardless of what time of day or where they are doing it.