The pandemic encouraged many workers to reconsider their priorities and attitudes toward their professional and personal lives. As a result, employers were given a unique opportunity to gain insights about how to support their employees. Across industries, workers expressed a need for work-life flexibility and a desire to feel as though they are valued in the organization.
Given my own experience as a working mother, active volunteer, wife and caretaker for my mother, balance has always been a necessity. But it’s not always easy to find. Leaders and mid-level managers play an important role in addressing employees’ needs and there are several steps they can take.
Listen and learn
As a people leader, it’s a top priority to ensure my colleagues feel appreciated and important. Now more than ever, employees want to feel that they contribute something to the workplace that only they can contribute — removing the notion that ‘anyone can be replaced.’ One simple way to ensure this feeling makes it across your team is by continuously reminding direct reports how valued they are and shining a light on their recent accomplishments.
The phrase, “people don’t leave companies, they leave leaders” rings true for many employees. In the era of the Great Resignation, it is imperative that colleagues know just how vital they are both to their organizations, and also to those to whom they report. Asking them how they’re feeling and taking the time to get to know them on a personal level is a great place to start. Doing so will build rapport, enable the leader to know what motivates them and understand how work-life balance may be achieved. This strategy also ensures colleagues feel supported and cared for. With that, they feel more inclined to work toward goals and follow designed plans and schedules.
Lead by example
What does work-life balance look like and are you as a people manager following suit? Teams take many unspoken cues from leaders so setting a positive example can make all the difference. While assisting colleagues with their specific work responsibilities, exploring their personal ones can be equally important, to the extent that the employee is willing to share. Flexibility may not be possible in every organization, by virtue of the specific role, but even some autonomy is better than none. Accommodating in certain circumstances — whether it’s allowing employees to work from home so they can focus on caregiving responsibilities or giving them the ability to restructure their schedule so they can take care of a personal appointment — can improve employee efficiency.
Take it one step further
Work-life flexibility is important both for employers from a productivity standpoint also for retention. Here is one example: Katie* began her career at Sedgwick in 2013 as a claims examiner and later was promoted to team lead. After her child became ill, she considered leaving the industry to find a different role with flexibility. Given her dedication and to show empathy and understanding, we were able to work out an arrangement that was reasonable for both Katie and also the organization. As a result, she had the flexibility she needed to tend to her family’s needs, and we were able to retain a valuable colleague and demonstrate what it means when we say, “caring counts.”
Sedgwick clients count on us to continue to improve the health and productivity of our staff so as to support their customers in ways that are cost-effective, efficient and caring. To learn more about Sedgwick, our caring counts approach and our available career opportunities, visit www.sedgwick.com/careers.
*Name has been changed to protect privacy.