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Employee Experience

The importance of empathy in new ways of working

As employers across Asia continue to define new work experiences after two years of working remotely, prioritizing and managing employee health and wellbeing must be a fundamental part of their plans.

Currently, we are seeing a lot of conversations around new working models - from the notion of a four-day work week through to hybrid or fully remote models. New research from Qualtrics - based on responses from almost 8,000 full-time employees in Asia Pacific and Japan - help inform these discussions, revealing people across Asia would prefer to have the flexibility to work whenever they want (60%) over a four-day working week (40%).

However, these findings only tell half of the story. The real value comes from understanding the reasons employees across Asia are calling for changes in the way they work.

In the context of the four-day work week for example, respondents believe it will have the biggest positive impact on their work-life balance (83%) and mental health (79%). However, they also acknowledge there would likely be trade-offs. Almost three-quarters (71%) expect a four-day work week would see them work longer hours, as well as frustrate customers (57%) and negatively impact company performance (57%). Similarly, the volume of people reporting improvements to their mental health while working remotely (26%) is similar to those saying it has had a negative impact (24%)

What’s clear from these findings is while flexibility in schedules can help address health and wellbeing, it won’t solve the issue at the root cause.

The importance of empathy

To meaningfully solve the issue of improving health and wellbeing at work, leading with empathy is critical. Increasingly, we’re seeing people make career decisions and find fulfillment in their jobs by working for organizations that truly understand and respond to their needs, and where they feel they belong. When you consider more than two-thirds of the workforce (68%) say their job is the main source of their mental health, not to mention the rising cost of living and race for talent, this is an area requiring immediate attention.

By better and more regularly understanding what people need to be supported, engaged, and productive at work, employers can stay aligned with their employees’ changing needs at scale. This enables leaders to ensure their teams feel heard, with their feedback helping managers take confident and precise action on what matters, when it matters. For instance, in addition to flexible working, improving wellbeing can be supported through programs like paid mental health leave, or access to wellbeing resources and services.

A deep understanding of peoples’ needs also means investments and adjustments can be prioritised and focused on making the biggest impact without sacrificing culture, retention, or results.

While these types of deeper conversations can be more challenging, they are crucial to building a culture that prioritizes health and wellbeing and that encourages employees to work in ways suited to their individual needs.

Thinking beyond schedules

The importance of thinking beyond work schedules to improve wellbeing is further highlighted when we look at ways respondents want their performance to be measured. An overwhelming majority would rather be measured by outcomes (83%) than hours worked, citing increased efficiency, focus, and recognition as the reasons for doing so.

Employers have a significant opportunity to rethink the ways they work to deliver major lasting value to their people and the outcomes they drive. That’s why the most important part of any working model isn’t simply the hours or days worked - it’s being able to have conversations with individuals on a deeper level to understand and meaningfully deliver what people want and expect to ensure everyone benefits from the transformations underway.

Take a look at Qualtrics research into what people really want from work to help you design an incredible employee experience