How to Build an Employee-Centric Culture

When it comes to building a business, the best companies realize early on that the way to become so is to find the best people. In the dynamic landscape of modern workplaces, especially in the wake of a pandemic, cultivating team culture has become a strategic imperative. Culture in the workplace that puts employees at its core not only boosts morale, but becomes a catalyst for productivity, innovation, and employee retention.

Cultivating an employee-centric environment goes beyond superficial perks. It involves open communication, organizational values with individual aspirations, and an overall sense of taking care of everyone in the company.

We were invited by Sprout Solutions to speak at their HR Experts Webinar, “Future proofing HR: Prioritizing Employee Wellbeing to Build an Employee-centric Culture.” As a health insurtech company using data and tech to provide hassle-free HMO for startups and SMEs, we at Hive Health constantly have the opportunity to speak with a lot of HR teams and business owners across different industries and have witnessed how putting employees first benefits a company.

Productivity and Innovation

First, a healthy and happy workforce is more productive and innovative. To back this claim up:

  • A study by the Philippine Institute for Development Studies revealed that companies with health and wellness programs experienced a significant increase in employee productivity, contributing to the country's economic growth.
  • Another study conducted by the World Health Organization found that for every $1 invested in mental health treatment, there is a return of $4 in improved health and productivity.

Reduced Turnover

Second, prioritizing employee wellbeing helps reduce turnover rates. From what we’ve seen, employee wellbeing issues have dramatically increased, especially after COVID and the advent of AI. Issues include poor mental health, burnout, and other work trends like quiet-quitting

  • High employee turnover remains a challenge for many Philippine organizations. According to Jobstreet Philippines, 47% of employees consider leaving their jobs due to poor work-life balance and lack of career development opportunities.
    • This causes employers to lose up to 23% of their potential and existing talent due to insufficient health plans and benefits
  • Globally, according to Gallup, organizations with high employee engagement levels experience 59% less turnover than those with low engagement levels.

Of course, human resources (HR) plays a very critical role in shaping a culture that prioritizes employee well-being and drives team effectiveness.

Barriers to Championing Well-Being

We’ve seen through our various accounts that HR is both a leader and an agent for other leaders in the organization, that acts as a bridge between management and employees. The HR team:

  • Determines team design through recruiting, org structure, and compensation (including benefits such as healthcare)
  • Launches teams by onboarding employees with clear company vision and values, specific roles, and measures of success in mind
  • Establishes norms that foster healthy communication patterns and psychological safety
  • Manages the process by facilitating coaching and feedback

And all of these contribute to what we call culture, which determines effectiveness. But where does the system of “culture” break down from here? What leads to frustrated employees, high turnovers, and ineffective teams? It’s usually because employees are either:

  1. Not heard
  2. Not trained
  3. Not cared for

Let’s dive into each and see how we can promote a culture where employees feel safe, heard, and valued.

On employees not being heard

Let’s start off with a quick story.

In the late ‘70s, a United Airlines flight was headed from New York to Portland when a mechanical failure ensued. The captain was one of the most senior pilots at United with over 30 years experience. After seeing the warning light, the captain decided to delay the landing until the issue was identified. An hour later, the aircraft lost all 4 engines, killing 10 people onboard.

After investigation, it turns out the incident could have been avoided. On multiple occasions, the crew members were trying to get the captain’s attention that they were running out of fuel but didn’t feel comfortable challenging his decision. This sadly wasn’t the only instance of cockpit communication errors in the ‘70s.

In the 1990s, Crew Resource Management (CRM) was established as a training program that sets the tone within every flight and cabin crew that they are on the same page of operating a safe flight.

What’s the lesson we’re trying to share here?

In most organizations today - we too need to come up with our own programs and policies to encourage employees to feel safe, heard, and aligned with the direction of the company.

Compensation attracts talent, but culture retains them. It’s important to promote a culture where employees feel that their work and feedback are being valued, and where they are given a safe space to freely voice out their opinions.

According to a 2022 report by employee listening platform Perceptyx. Employers that act on employee feedback regularly are 11x more likely to have high employee retention compared to employers that do not.

While having team meetings and exit interviews are already a standard practice, it’s best to dig deeper and set those roots as a foundation for every individual in the company. Instituting 1:1s between managers and direct reports, facilitating 360-degree feedback for all teams, and conducting “retention interviews” at least annually to better understand what employees value, struggle with, and what they’d like to further improve.

All of this encourages candor and gives your employees a safe space to discuss their experience in your company; in return, the role of HR is to act on that feedback and use it to improve that experience.

On employees not being trained

The second blocker to employee wellbeing is not being trained.

We’ve had business owners and HR share that some employees leave due to lack of personal and professional growth. In fact, it was cited by PeopleHum that 77% of Filipino workers expressed up-skilling and retraining as promoters of retention.

To support employees’ growth and build a great team, it’s important to first understand their motivations and how their work fits into their own goals.

Adopted from the renowned Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott, a framework that works well for 1:1s as a driver of a deeper conversation with employees works as follows: We ask each employee their values/life story, their dreams, and create an action plan to support this.

  • First we start with the past to understand people’s values, what drives them. Asking one’s life story can tell a lot about one’s values. Why did you make this choice? What did you like or not like about your past roles? What values do your resonate with?
  • Next we outline the future - what dreams do you have? This includes where people dream to be at the height of their careers, as well as their personal, and even financial goals.
  • After understanding their values and dreams, we can now co-create a thoughtful career action plan which becomes a strong foundation to build on each employee’s development goals and timelines associated with these.

Aligning on what support or training each employee needs ultimately helps in providing exposure and allocating resources towards growth areas that are meaningful to both the company and the employee.

Some questions that we can regularly ask ourselves as HRs include:

  • As the organization grows, how do we make sure our employees grow with us?
  • How do we set our employees up for success?
  • Do your employees really get the support they need?

On employees not being taken care of

The last and probably most important blocker to employee wellbeing is employees feel that they are not being taken care of.

We have all probably witnessed employees who struggle to go to work due to healthcare concerns. The good news is HRs have the chance to be proactive in taking care of employees’ health, particularly in the 3 key areas of mental health, accessible care, and caring for employees’ loved ones.

Mental Health

According to Spring Health, an employee who is depressed misses 6 to 25 additional days of work per year; and his or her work performance is also impaired at an average of 20% of the time.

Unfortunately, we always hear that, especially in the Philippines, most mental health services are expensive and difficult to access, taking many steps and days to be able to book.

As HR, it is key not only to be able to give employees mental health coverage, but also ensure that it is of quality and easily accessible

At Hive Health, for example, we offer in-house mental health teleconsult services for our clients so that their employees can book as soon as on the same day, so that care is not delayed. We also cover multiple mental health sessions and medications.

In fact, 56% of our clients have availed of our mental health coverage, with most of them having mental health benefits for their teams for the first time.

Accessible Care

For the growth of any company, every management team hopes that their employees do their best to further the mission vision. But sometimes, working hard takes its toll on the body, which is why a standard for companies no matter what size is to have an HMO that fits their needs.

Typically, employees find it confusing or have to wait in long lines in the hospital just to get a LOA or pre-approval to see a doctor or get a procedure

  • When they call customer service, it’s often busy
  • As a result, a lot of employees end up not getting care, severely impacting employee well-being

As HRs, of course we want to ensure that we provide healthcare that is easily accessible to our employees, and easily usable by yourselves too.

At Hive Health, for example, members can use the Hive portal to easily understand their benefits, find providers, and instantly secure a digital LOA to avoid the long lines.

Employees can also book a teleconsult immediately with our in-house doctors – all at the comforts of their home or office, without having to take a leave. They can also access their own integrated medical records.

For HR, Our first-in-class HR dashboard eliminated the notorious manual back and forth emails and excel sheets just to onboard or terminate a member. It also allows HR to view APE results and monitor and actively encourage employee’s engagement.

Caring for employees’ loved ones

Instead of letting employee deal with their family’s health issues on their own, companies can proactively support employees by allowing them to also cover dependents.

Through the Hive portal, members can actually book teleconsults or request LOA on behalf of their dependent.

Under caring for your loved ones, it is important to find an inclusive HMO provider. For example, at Hive, we allow our clients to cover domestic and LGBTQ partners, allowing employees to be at ease knowing their loved ones are also cared for.

It’s important to acknowledge that there is no perfect organization. All companies have similar struggles no matter how young or old, small or large. But what’s important is we as HRs consciously work towards building a culture that is more employee-centric than it was yesterday.

To learn more about how Hive Health can help your team take care of your employees, book a call today.