By Nicole Green, Group People and Culture Director Asia-Pacific
Wellbeing has always been a huge focus for myself and the teams I have led. I’m always mindful of my role as advisor and coach in helping leaders see that a focus on wellbeing is not only the right thing to do, it also makes good business sense.
Employees expect a more human experience in their day to day work life and rightly demand that organisations demonstrate a commitment to this. When we started to work from home in March, we identified (early) a high level of risk to the mental wellbeing of our employees. These unprecedented times have meant we’ve had to prioritise and increase our focus on monitoring and support of our people. Australians are known for their long work hours, so it’s easy for a sense of balance to be compromised. Leaders right now need to be even more consciously aware of how they are addressing wellbeing and how they are exercising a compassionate style of leadership and here are some of the initiatives that we’ve supported over the past few months:
Staying connected has been key
Without the hustle and bustle of a real-life office environment, staying connected as a team has never been more crucial. We’re lucky to have technology at our disposal to enable this and we’ve made full use of video to ensure that we can continue to hangout, meet and chat as we would during a ‘normal’ workday at the office. Our MD has established a weekly ‘check-in’ with the team sharing not only important business updates but also a little of his personal experience during this time. The team has not only stayed connected with our local leadership team but has also started to build relationships with our Global leadership team through a virtual Town Hall. Initiated under COVID, and hosted via Zoom, it’s been a game changer for the team who now feels more informed and connected with our global business.
Communication, communication, communication
We’ve been committed to regular communications as part of our wellbeing strategy, keeping the team up to date on internal changes as they take place; new initiatives, promotions, moves and welcoming those new to our business to ensure that everyone is in the loop. We’ve also encouraged our leaders to connect with their team on a daily basis – even just to check in and say ‘hi’ - and we have provided support materials to help them with this. We recognise that without our people, we don’t have a business. Keeping their wellbeing at the heart and centre of what we do, and the way we work, is essential. We’re - the first to admit that we never get this 100% right, but, with growth, learning and continuous improvement core to our IRI values, we will continue to work on improving the way we communicate and connect with our people.
Addressing anxiety head on
People manage and cope with change in a number of different ways. We realised early through conversations with leaders and individuals across the business that uncertainty, and the anxiety that often comes with this, was going to be increased during this period. We wanted to address this head on and introduced an IRI first – Virtual Mindfulness Sessions. Led by meditation specialists, we set up a series of live webinars to introduce the team to ‘mindfulness’ as a tool to help manage and cope with anxiety. The 15-minute sessions used guided visualisation and breathing exercises giving the team a moment of time out, not only from a busy workday, but from the general noise of everyday life.
At IRI we are committed to embracing, flexibility, flexibly. We know that every team member is having to deal with a series of different challenges and circumstances and as a business, we want to ensure that everyone is empowered to do their job within the parameters of their current situation. Need to work from 5am – 1pm? Your call. Need to drop off or pick up the kids in the middle of the day? Go for it! We trust our team to make the right choices and deliver what is required of them.
While not everything carries the official branding of ‘wellbeing’, it’s a core belief of mine and my team’s that most of what we do in People and Culture can be linked back to wellbeing. Being genuine about people and their welfare is core to our IRI values and we can see the impact of the programs and initiatives we’ve put in place through staff feedback and our engagement results. We have focused on educating leaders, stimulating ideas, and adjusting our systems – from the obvious (flexibility, leave benefits and mental health support) to the less obvious (developing our leaders to provide role clarity, support employee on-boarding, and coach to uncover what is going on for individuals and to help them to become more resilient and resourceful).
We don’t always get it right, but I am constantly reassured by the motivation of our people leaders in maintaining a strong focus on this topic. I am hugely motivated and encouraged when I see the impact of this focus on energy-levels, motivation, good decision-making and a long-term focus on building a sustainable business.
|Nicole is IRI’s Group People & Culture Director for Asia Pacific. A progressive leader and a passionate believer in thoughtfully shaping the employee experience, Nicole joined IRI in 2018 to support the business during a significant period of change. Nicole has a diverse background leading HR functions in the Entertainment and Professional Services industries.
With more than 20 years’ experience in HR practice, Nicole is both strategic and commercially-minded. Nicole sees her role as People & Culture Director as that of advisor and coach, committed to supporting individual and organisational growth by building leadership capability and an organisation adept at attracting, retaining and managing its talent.
One of Nicole’s areas of focus has been on building diversity, and helping leverage diversity through a more inclusive style of leadership. Promoting gender diversity, in particular, has been a personal driver for Nicole and continues to be a focus at IRI.
Nicole brings energy and enthusiasm to everything she does and clearly demonstrates a commitment to building an environment at IRI that inspires and challenges people to be their best.