Finding the human connection at work

Bringing together HR and business leaders from Optus, Assetlink and Bay Audio Australia, Ironfish this week hosted a panel discussion on overcoming HR challenges in 2019.

financial wellbeing

The event was attended by HR professionals from a diverse range of industries and companies, including Johnson & Johnson, Hollard and Children’s Cancer Institute. Attendees had the opportunity to build new connections amongst peers as well as gain valuable insights from the 4 panellists about new HR strategies, innovation, initiatives and challenges faced by their respective organisations.

As an HR service provider – offering a financial wellbeing program for the workplace – we are keenly interested in following new people and culture trends as they emerge, particularly in the mental health and wellbeing space.

What we’ve found is that according to lead researcher of global HR think-tank Reventure Dr Lindsay McMillan, there are 4 key trends which organisations will need to address as a priority:

  1. Increased focus on health and wellbeing
    74% of workers believe that workplace wellbeing programs, which cover everything from flexible hours to fitness programs, are worth the time and money.
  2. Technology overhaul
    The prevalence of artificial intelligence and automated systems to streamline processes will continue to rise.
  3. More than just a job
    More employees are looking to their job to provide a sense of purpose – 44% of Australian workers said a sense of meaning was important to ensuring a high level of personal wellbeing. Further, 77% of millennials said that they were looking for purpose and meaning in their work.
  4. Employee expectations
    85% of Australian workers believe that the onus is on employers to create an environment that proactively addresses stress in the workplace.
    More workers are looking for meaning in their jobs and it is one of the most common reasons employees leave their current workplace.

At Ironfish, we were very interested to note that 3 out of these 4 trends were related to personal wellbeing and over the course of the evening’s discussion, it became apparent that many organisations are now looking to bring that ‘human connection’ or ‘personal’ element back into the workplace. This is especially important as technology plays an increasingly larger role in all aspects of our lives.

financial wellbeing

“At Optus, we’ve undergone an employer branding project; because we noticed that the ‘sense of Optus’ was something we were missing. We’ve now also identified that our sense of ‘why work for us’ – our mission or purpose for our work has also not been clearly articulated, and we’re planning to launch this soon too,” said Optus Head of HR Consumer, Ronan Carolan.

For Assetlink, a national organisation of about 2,000 employees their challenges are different. With a large, remotely deployed staff of cleaners and security guards – some who work 24-hour shifts – Assetlink has not only managed to secure an Employer of Choice award, the company also enjoys low staff turnover, with 90% of their employees saying they “love coming to work each day”.

“Unless you’re in the industry, you wouldn’t have heard of Assetlink the way you would know a brand like Optus. But our focus has been to stand out in our industry by giving our employees a sense of purpose and achievement in their work. We don’t want our people to be invisible, we want them to engage with people. Our managers actually reward kind behaviours; from saying hi to an elderly lady who could use a bit of conversation to more extreme cases where our security guards have actually saved a life,” said Internal Communications and Engagement Specialist, Samantha Lynn.

“Our business started with a husband-and-wife team and this ‘family-feel’ is something we actively promote. Our managers undergo continued training to ensure they fit in with our culture, which is all about making our employees feel like valued and respected equals,” Ms Lynn said.

Bay Audio Australia is a hearing solutions retail organisation that has grown from 1 to 68 stores in the past 11 years, and 20 stores in the last year alone. Francene Keane, former Coles Express Regional People & Culture Manager is now their National Human Resources Manager. She points out that language also plays an important role in helping employees feel that a sense of personal wellbeing and satisfaction at work.

“Before, the word ‘sales’ was used a lot in our business, but we’ve changed that language now to ‘a life changed’. Because that’s the truth. We’ve had clinicians brought to tears witnessing people hear the voices of loved ones for the first time; this is a truly life changing moment for our customers. So now, we refer to our top performers as those who’ve changed X number of lives, not made X number of sales, and that makes a real difference,” Ms Keane said.

financial wellbeing

At Ironfish, personal wellbeing and finding meaning in the workplace go hand in hand also.

“We’re a property investment services company, but property is just the vehicle for us,” said Ironfish CEO, Joseph Chou. “Our underlying mission is helping Australians improve their personal financial wellbeing – and this applies just as much to our staff as it does to our customers. At Ironfish 86% of our staff around our branches in Australia are property investors – including many young ‘rent-vestors’ who have managed to get their foot on the property ladder.

“Financial education, learning how to build wealth for the last phase of life – this is the value-add we offer, because we know how important it is. For most people their superannuation balance or pension won’t be enough. Many people (of all ages) need help with very basic concepts – budgeting, managing credit card debt, knowing the difference between good debt and bad debt. This type of financial education doesn’t exist at school or in the workplace – until now.”

Ironfish Financial Wellbeing Progam

Ironfish offers a ‘Lunch and Learn’ series of financial wellbeing educational workshops both in the workplace and at our offices.

If you’d like to attend our next Lunch and Learn, or if you’re an HR professional, who would like to hear how we could help you bring the ‘personal’ or ‘human connection’ into your workplace, please contact our Financial Wellbeing Program Co-Ordinator.

Ironfish is the 2017, 2018 and 2019 Event Partner of the Australian HR Awards.

With thanks to Ronan, Samantha, Francene and Joseph for sharing your insights and experiences at our event.

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