If there was ever a moment in which organisations need to recognise the importance of their people, that time is now.
The Covid-19 pandemic has taken our pulse like never before - our strength and our resilience are under scrutiny. For workplace culture, this is the moment of truth. Working from home and virtual business planning have put everything to the test. And this uncertainty shows no signs of stopping.
During these challenging times, companies should focus on their employees and show a different way of facing the invisible adversary in our midst. It’s well known that if people are treated well, it is reflected in their work. The flipside of the coin is also true. If a workplace culture is unsupportive, you will see that in the quality of its work.
One of the few positive effects resulting from the pandemic has been the emergence of more empathetic leaders, who are more in tune with the challenges of this fluid, new normal and keep the wellbeing of their employees a top priority.
Despite significant attention in the wake of Covid-19, the importance of empathy is not new. Empathetic leadership and emotional intelligence have long been known to be important soft skills that support a healthy culture. And they have been central to how I lead my teams.
As I think back on my leadership experience and the culture at my agency, our approach is 'people first'. This requires active listening, understanding context, and seeking to maintain a healthy work-life balance. It is the central point from which everything else radiates.
One of the ways in which we’ve brought this to life is through our 'Employee Experience', which begins with the first interview and carries through the entire employee journey. Regular check-ins provide consistent feedback and help take the pulse of the organisation. Through regional town halls, programs, and initiatives that focus on inclusivity and empowering women, our regional leadership team demonstrates its strong desire to connect with our people.
Efforts like these are intentional and go a long way in creating a positive culture. But if there is anything that the Covid-19 crisis has taught us, it’s that there is always more to do when it comes to the overall health and wellbeing of an organisation. The pandemic has led us to focus even more on supporting our people, whether it is through operations or mental and physical wellness. Specific programs we have introduced have included mindfulness training, yoga classes, writing workshops, and even legal consultation services.
These ideas did not just come from leadership, either. We also conducted multiple surveys to ensure that our people’s voices were heard and their needs understood.
In the current environment, it’s impossible to achieve anything without a solid and humane culture, in which co-creation and empathetic leadership stand at the forefront. It’s time to look beyond labels and job titles. We are all leaders; we all have autonomy and influence. Culture must always be a guiding light. Because it is the only way to build a more sustainable, profitable, and socially responsible company.
This philosophy is reflected and has always been key for the excellence and execution of everything we do.
- Juan Pablo Jurado, CEO, Wunderman Thompson LATAM