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The pandemic has caused major shifts in the world beyond global physical health and safety, forcing employers and employees alike to reevaluate how we work and what we value as productive members of society.
The third installment of the INQlusive webinar series “New World of Work” examines how the world has changed and still has to change in terms of work culture, leadership and the role of technology in our lives. The INQlusive webinar series is an advocacy campaign launched in 2020 by the Inquirer and Inquirer.net to discuss the impact of the health crisis on various societal issues.
As we wade deeper into a more and more technologically advanced future, there is a realization that we need to resurface and reclaim our humanity in the workplace.
While technology will never replace human work, it does have its place in improving processing and business operations in many industries, according to Stephen Thomas Misa, Amazon Web Services Philippines country head, president and chair.
Channeling that advantage afforded by robots and artificial intelligence, people can take on and learn new skills that would differentiate them from those that can be relegated to machines, said Vanson So, Canva Philippines people lead.
According to the webinar panelists, among the skills needed in the future are digitization, using body language and facial expressions in online settings, written communication, critical thinking, resilience, mental agility, ability to recognize feelings, coping with changes in positive ways and empathy.
They agreed that there is a need to recognize that organizations are made up of human beings who have responsibilities and go through challenges in life, at work or at home, and therefore should be treated with compassion.
With global phenomena like The Great Resignation and “quiet quitting” coming to the fore, employers must understand how to elevate employee experience, especially in work-from-home setups where the lines between work and life increasingly blur.
“I want to call it The Great Realization,” said Vina Paglicawan, TaskUs director for wellness and resiliency in Asia, about the worldwide trend of employees leaving jobs they’re not happy in. “In the last two years, the COVID pandemic gave us an opportunity to reevaluate our lives. This is a great time for people to really realize what’s important for them.”
Meanwhile, quiet quitting is about taking control, said Cat Triviño, cofounder and head of content of MindNation. Workers doing the bare minimum—the exact job required of them and nothing more—is an exercise in setting boundaries. “But at the end of the day, is it going to contribute to growth?”
There should be openness between leaders and members, according to her. When employers are open about their own challenges, it inspires employees to be more open and more supportive as well. “Then we can create that healthy organization that not only gets the job done, but also thrives.”
For Miguel Guina, Philippine Management Association of the Philippines academe industry committee chair, work and life cannot be separated. According to him, whatever happens to someone’s personal life seeps into their work life, which is where valuing humanity comes in—treating people as people.
“Your employees are your brand. So we want to make sure that people really gain a sense of belongingness, inclusivity, empowerment, so that they really enjoy and thrive doing the best work of their lives,” said So.
At the core of it all is trust, according to the panelists.
So said that, especially in remote setups, there should be a shift in the way employees are treated. Employers should be able to trust their employees and instill in them a sense of accountability to achieve their goals without intervention from management.
“You don’t bound people and put them in a box. You hire brilliant people and you let them be. Let them show you how to do the work. That’s how you not just elevate the employee experience, but you can also elevate the effectiveness of your organization,” So added.
Ronaldo Turla, managing director at Talent Reach Consulting, emphasized the principle of giving people a chance—providing safety and support when employees make mistakes. The connection that it provides, he said, is priceless.
“With regards to managing performance, nothing beats the consistency of communication from the managers,” he added.
According to Misa, a recent survey named the Top 3 criteria highly sought after by employees as attractive salaries and benefits; flexible work environment; and a strong leadership.
“Everything rises and falls on leadership,” he said, quoting bestselling author and leadership guru John C. Maxwell.
“If we have more leaders leading with vulnerability, compassion, authenticity, I’d say we’d be in a far better place years from now,” Paglicawan said.
Triviño said that something that often gets overlooked when discussing cultivating better leaders in the workplace is self-care for the leaders themselves. “You can’t fill from an empty cup.”
Paglicawan added that stigma surrounding mental health is dangerous: “Stigma would stop someone from asking for help. Stigma would stop someone from extending help.”
That’s why there is a need to talk more about not just mental health, not just mental illness, “because we may not be sick, but we’re probably not also well,” she added.
Triviño asserted that one’s mental health is more than just one’s productivity, adding that some of the greatest outputs in prioritizing safety and well-being are beyond measurable.
“Well-being is always a gatekeeper,” Guina said. “If you don’t have a mentally well employee, it’s hard to really have great-performing employee.”
His message to employers: “’Esse quam videri’—to be rather than to seem. Do not just seem like valuing well-being, do and be a champion of well-being.”
Turla said: “In the new world of work, we have the chance to create, recreate. For people to peak again, there has to be hope. Hope is something that everyone can have and that will propel us to better things to come.” INQ