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  • How HR Can Make Companies a Safe Space

    by BGC HR

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    As a recruitment company in Singapore that also provides HR services, it only makes sense for us to continuously explore new ways of improving our own internal HR policies and practices.

    The impact of the recent pandemic has shown us how managing work pressure and family under undesirable circumstances can be detrimental to a person’s wellbeing.

    This is why having an emotional safe space at work can ultimately provide employees with an outlet to share their hardships and to speak out about difficult topics.

    What is an Emotional Safe Space?

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    An environment or culture that makes employees feel comfortable expressing their emotions with peers, managers, and others within the organization. It should be a space where they can be their true selves, feel valued, and raise difficult conversations without the fear of judgement.

    More importantly, they should know that it will not endanger their reputation at the workplace.

    A safe space is not only crucial for the wellness of employees in general, but particularly for those in minority groups and those who are struggling with mental or physical health.

    How to Introduce Emotional Safety at Work

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    1. Starting Small

    It will be difficult to have the entire organization participate immediately in the objective. Start by practicing in teams as this can help each employee understand how their peers prefer to think.

    It gives them the opportunity to identify the reservations that are keeping them from sharing their viewpoints.

    HR can also use this practice to understand the typical responses of employees to changes, and how to react in a way that invites open discussion.

    2. Spreading the Culture of Concern

    In general, most people are not accustomed to the culture of asking their colleagues how their day was, but by doing so, it expresses concern and interest in them as people.

    This simple act can also help them feel more comfortable speaking up because they know they are appreciated not just for the product of their work.

    3. Encourage Open Discussions

    An example of this would be to have the host pause at the end of meetings to ask for questions. This creates an opportunity for different viewpoints and opinions that have not yet been voiced.

    This takes into consideration those who are internal processors and may need more time to organize their thoughts before voicing them.

    4. Training Employees to Support Each Other

    Every team encounters a moment of tension that is usually caused by a lack of communication or a clash of personalities.

    One way of addressing the issue is by arranging workshops or team building sessions that highlights the strengths and weaknesses of each member and how they prefer to work.

    This allows teams to gain a sense of understanding and to adopt new ways of working that compliments each other’s strengths while compromising each other’s weaknesses.

    5. Providing Multiple Channels of Communication

    Not every employee is comfortable with discussing their issues in person or during a meeting. For employees that are introverted, it might be better to give them an alternative way of communicating their concerns.

    This can be anything from a forum, where they can have discussions with other employees or their managers, to regular one-to-one meetings with the purpose of checking in on their wellbeing.

    Creating a Safe Space Through the Company and its Leaders

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    1. A Leader’s Role in Building the Culture

    In every team, the leader sets the tone and the expectations. From the team’s point of view, it would be difficult to be vulnerable if the leader comes off as rigid.

    As leaders, it is just as important to share uncertainties and personal challenges with the team. This promotes trust and sets an example for employees to be vulnerable themselves.

    Other than that, it encourages discussion that extends beyond the workplace. Take the opportunity to check in on their wellbeing and their families.

    2. Transparency from All Levels

    From the moment an employee joins the company, they will go through shifting and adjusting of plans made by the company. Some of them might have an easier time transitioning, but others may feel disoriented.

    This feeling of disorientation ultimately stems from their initial expectations changing as new information is revealed.

    However, a way of preventing or mediating this is by being transparent about the changes made and why they were made. It would also be helpful to give them time to process the change.

    3. Accessible Resources and Policies

    Having policies that uphold the culture that HR is trying to implement can also be a way to show that the company considers the impact of their decisions involving employees.

    In addition, resources such as counselling, medical benefits, and other policies that aid the emotional wellbeing of employees, can be compiled into a list that is accessible to all members of the company.

    Maintaining a Safe Space for Employees

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    A Pleasant Journey from Start to Finish

    A good onboarding process is one of the most emphasized topics in HR, but it’s essential to ensure that employees feel reassured from the point of joining the company up to the day they leave.

    All throughout their time within the company, employees should know that their opinions are valued. That way, during their exit interviews, they will be willing to provide their honest and constructive feedback.

    Exit interviews are a gold mine of useful information for HR as the strengths and weaknesses of how the company operates are revealed from the employees’ perspectives.

    How Employees Leaving Can be a Good Thing

    In continuation to how exit interviews can inadvertently be used as a means of improving the company’s operations, this in turn can increase retention rates.

    As employees leave the company, they also bring their experiences and opinions with them. If the company was a place where they felt valued, performed their best, and enjoyed spending their time, that is what they would spread to others.

    Their impressions of the company also reflect the perceptions of employees that are currently working within the company. It shows why they want to stay and in turn means less money spent on recruiting and onboarding, as well as related costs.

    Looking for more ways to improve employee wellbeing? Check out the BGC Group blog for more information!

    Read More: 5 Ways to Improve Workplace Wellbeing

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