As we know, for every action there is a reaction. But often that reaction can also have an unintentional consequence.
Hybrid working is a great example. Since the Covid years, we have embraced this new way of working but while it feels like the best of both worlds – one foot at home and the other in the office – it is not without challenges. The unintentional consequence is lack of structure and team spirit, with the risk of feeling isolated and unsupported.
A recent employee survey at Zonal revealed that our people crave face to face and social interaction. They see that it’s vital for that sense of belonging, being part of a team and learning from each other.
And it’s not just about work. Life is stressful – rising cost of living, energy crisis and the instability of governments around the world, including war in Eastern Europe – is impacting mental health.
For businesses, we have a duty of care and need to build trust with our people. We need to offer real support, especially if we want productive and thriving workplaces and retain our best people.
At Zonal we have actively responded to the changing landscape and needs of our people. This starts way before day one. We have onboarding packs, welcome cards from our CEO, individually tailored 4 week induction programmes and team welcome meetings which have hugely helped in building relationships – and trust – from the point of offer. But is it working? In short, yes – the numbers of non-starters have dramatically decreased since we introduced this new approach.
For all staff, we have also changed our benefit offering to give more focus to three key pillars that align with the real-life challenges we are all experiencing: Financial, Health and Family. The benefits we have in place, from free financial advice to private healthcare and retail vouchers, offer choice and the opportunity to flex benefits to meet individual needs.
And we have a team of specially trained mental health mentors, so anyone struggling can reach out for support, without prejudice or judgement. As they say, a problem shared is a problem halved. But this is not achieved without trust and an authentic culture of caring for one another. We pride ourselves on the mantra that everyone in the group is part of the family, and we mean it.
This is where community spirit and helping one another is important, but to be authentic must be part of the firm’s DNA. Our support for Only A Pavement Away, which helps people experiencing homelessness, prison leavers and veterans into hospitality employment, is not only financial but is about giving time, whereby staff use charity days to volunteer for the cause. This year, we’ve donated more than 450 bags of clothing to the homeless shelters in and around the Edinburgh area. Giving back to the community is a huge part of our family ethos.
So, whilst we can do a lot through a screen, face to face time is incredibly important for any business. It’s all about finding the balance – which isn’t always easy to achieve. By holding regular 1-2-1 and staff meet-ups at Zonal, helps us gauge morale, get feedback and promote involvement. Again, this simple technique is benefitting the business – as well as our people – as staff turnover has decreased by 2 per cent on last year.
Get the balance of working from home and the office right and you will keep employees engaged and ultimately retain key talent.