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Is it worth it to have a human-centric workplace?

Companies today understand, that to be successful, it is not just enough to have the right talent, but to also have talent that is engaged, motivated to perform well and will continue with the organisation...

Is IQ no longer relevant? Well, not really, but now it does have a sibling that is monopolizing quite a bit of the limelight – Emotional Intelligence or EI. Organisations are increasingly recognizing EI as an important skill set in their employees. In addition, it is also now being understood that the workplace itself can be transformed into an emotionally intelligent environment through its various employee touch points.

But what is an emotionally intelligent workplace going to achieve for an organisation? Every new trend brings with it the excitement of enormous possibilities as well as risks of failure. Is this a trend that organisations should be investing in?

Companies today understand, that to be successful, it is not just enough to have the right talent, but to also have talent that is engaged and motivated to perform well and will also continue with the organisation. Until recently, pool tables and fancy break out zones were considered attractive perks to retain talent. However now, with constant organisational changes brought in by technology, automation and changing expectations of employees and business, organisations have to be constantly alert and agile towards meeting the needs of its critical stakeholders.

Organisations have to creatively weave together the intangible elements such as culture, policies, and processes with tangible elements such as the physical ambience and technology to create an environment that is engaging, motivating and yet efficient and productive. But how do companies build this environment when the organisational ecosystem has culturally diverse, multi-generational individuals with various skills, productivity levels, emotional requirements and interests? How do they successfully engage all their employees to become a happy and productive workforce?

This is where an emotionally intelligent workplace environment can make a difference.

To start with the basics – what is EI? According to renowned psychologist Daniel Goleman emotional intelligence, “…is our capacity to recognize our own feelings and those of others, and to manage emotions effectively in ourselves and our relationships.” And what role does EI have in a professional environment? Again psychologist Goleman says, “…best leaders and team members are high in emotional and social intelligence skills, including self-mastery, resilience under stress, empathy, influence and effective teamwork.”

Thus, employees with high EI are more engaged and motivated, better at handling stress and conflicts, empathetic towards their co-workers’ needs and are better communicators and team players. They are an asset that any organisation will love to have. And the good news is that EI can be learnt and improved upon with practice and training.

Human-Centric Workplaces are tailored to the unique needs of the employees

However, in addition to focusing on boosting the EI of their workforce, organisations can also work on building a workplace that meets the emotional needs of its employees, identifies with their motivations and encourages them to perform their best. Workplaces can be empathetic towards the needs of its diverse set of employees through the various touch points that they interact with every day such as programmes, spaces, amenities, services etc.

For example, there may be times when one may prefer to work in silence and other times when working with the team seems more appealing. Workplace design can ensure that the different working styles of employees are accommodated through spaces for quiet concentration and discussions, such as focus pods, and also have inviting cafés or lounge like spaces to collaborate with co-workers and think creatively. So rather than being forced to adjust to noisy bays or secluded cubicles, employees can choose where they want to work and ensure higher output.

Today, space is a premium for most companies with offices in big cities. A fully functional cafeteria may not be an option for many, but with facilities such as RFID enabled smart fridges, organisations can bring balanced meals within easy reach of employees. Easy access to nutritious meals is certainly an advantage to employees who are now more conscious of their health yet are stressed for time.

It also helps when organisations start thinking beyond the confines of the office space to address few non-official problems of their employees. Often bogged down by mundane personal work or domestic concerns, employees are unable to focus on their work. When they are struggling with their own emotions, it’s not easy for them to be open to the needs of their clients or co-workers. At such times companies can be of great assistance to their employees by providing facilities such as concierge services to run errands or personal and home care services that take care of the elderly or small children at home.

Why is it smart to invest in a Human-Centric Workplace

With spaces and tools that enable them to work faster and collaborate easily, facilities that provide them comfort and optimum environment, and services that takes care not only of their in-office requirements but also some of their personal needs, organisations help their employees reduce stress, enhance their focus, foster creativity and innovation, build a sense of community and finally improve their productivity.

According to Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends report, 61% of business leaders said that an increased focus on well-being improves employee productivity and bottom-line business results.

An EI organisation understands that its people has challenges, strengths and weaknesses, and helps them resolve or leverage them. Being allowed to express their emotions or deal with them effectively not only promotes their well-being but also makes them feel connected to the organisation and bring their complete selves to work. Consequently such organisations will be naturally more attractive to employees and will be more successful at retaining good talent.

Having happy, engaged and motivated employees are some of the direct benefits of having an emotionally intelligent workplace environment. But what these employees also bring to the table are greater efficiency, better client or customer service and improved sales. They also become natural brand ambassadors for the organisation, adding more credible value to company’s worth than any paid publicity.

So to come back to the question, should organisations consider investing in creating emotionally intelligent workplace? – Yes, it is certainly an investment that they should start thinking about. However, it cannot be a copy paste activity. Companies need to listen to, and understand the particular needs of their people and then build the environment that will be most suitable to them, their culture and their business. It is an investment that will yield noticeable and tangible benefits that will fuel the organisation’s growth.

This article was initially published by Sunil Nayak, Global CEO, Corporate Services at Sodexo, on LinkedIn

September 03, 2019

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