Cultivate Healthier Team Culture that Drives Excellent CX with Stephen Canning, Jcurve

October 26, 202112:31 pm2162 views

The vast migration to remote working has threatened to weaken the solid team culture that companies build. The pandemic has influenced employees’ perceptions of culture, both positively and negatively, and leaders are urged to address these concerns.

In an attempt to seek answers on how organizations can adopt a healthier team culture, HR in Asia invites Stephen Canning, Chief Executive Officer at Jcurve to share his point of view. Read on..

  • Prolonged Covid-19 outbreak has already had a marked effect on people’s mental health. Stephen, how do you find yourself coping with the relentless pandemic? What are your strategies to combat fatigue and stress?

Answer: COVID-19 has had a devasting impact across the globe, with all of us having to deal with the constant threat to our health, our families, and our businesses. Having been largely denied our usual coping mechanisms such as socializing, traveling, and dining out, this has led to a lot of emotional exhaustion.

The pandemic is no different than any other stressor except in one important way: it is relentless. So, I deal with it by being relentless in pursuing my coping strategies:

Staying healthy. I cycle, I swim, and yes, I even had dumbbells delivered home. I’ve also always loved cooking and eating at home seven days a week allows me to fully control my diet. When you make all your own meals, you know exactly what ingredients go in. No excuses!

Staying informed. Like my food diet, I watch my news diet and limit where I get my information from to just a handful of trusted sources.

Staying in touch with friends and family through technology. While it is not the same as the real thing, social connection is now more important than ever.

  • More than half of employees globally report higher levels of work-related stress while working from home, driven by increased workloads and changes to working patterns. Do you notice a similar trend among your employees? If yes, what has your organization done to address the issue?

Answer: I have noticed a tendency for some of us, myself included, to convert our former commute time into work time, increasing our working hours almost without noticing. At Jcurve, maintaining a healthy work-life balance while working from home is something that we regularly talk to our employees about. After all, if your manager cannot physically see you, it can be challenging to know how many hours an employee is working.

We also give our employees a high degree of flexibility in the hours they work. For example, an employee may send out an email in the evening because they have been dealing with childcare during the day. We have worked hard with all employees to ensure that we recognize and respect the working patterns of others. Just because technology allows employees to be contacted at any time, does not mean they should be.

  • Recent WHO report highlights a shortfall in investment in mental health. Among the reason cited is lack of leadership and governance. In your opinion, what can businesses do better to support their workforce’s mental health?

Answer: Businesses can better support their workforce’s mental health by having robust policies in place. Exactly what the policy looks like will vary between businesses; it could be as simple as ensuring employees take all their annual leave allowances or operating a no-emails policy in the evenings or at weekends.

Regardless, the policy needs to be created collaboratively with employees, and it needs to be clearly communicated to ensure no communication gaps. Supporting mental health and wellbeing in the long run is not only good for the workforce, but also for the growth of the business through better employee engagement, performance, and staff retention.

  • Based on your observation, how are businesses in Singapore doing in cultivating healthy team cultures as compared to other countries across the Asia Pacific?

Answer: Building a healthy team culture is core to everything that we do at Jcurve. Why? Because it is a differentiator. A healthy culture leads to highly engaged employees, which leads to the delivery of an excellent customer experience (CX).

Let’s take CX maturity as a proxy for cultural health. Customer experience performance in Singapore saw an improvement in excellence rating in 2020 by 7% compared to 2019, according to a KPMG study. While this is a healthy level, there is clearly room for improvement as we head into 2022.

  • A survey reveals that most CEOs (96 percent) thought their companies were doing enough to promote mental health. But, interestingly, only 69 percent of workers felt their employers were adequately addressing workplace mental health. How can such a perception gap happen? 

Answer: I believe that a large portion of that gap is a communications gap. Many companies put a policy in place, tell their staff and tick the box – but people management is never as simple as ‘plug and play’. Businesses need to do more to remind employees of the initiatives or policies available to promote mental health. People only retain information that they believe is relevant to them and would most likely not remember when they actually need help or support months later. In progressive workplaces, information is readily available, and employers make it a point to remind teams of such access, and then remind them again.

  • Answer: Mental health apps have shown effectiveness in decreasing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Given this opportunity, how can employers utilize data and technology to increase employee wellbeing?

Answer: Employers should focus on preventative care by encouraging employees to take a proactive approach to all aspects of their health. So many of us are already using technology to monitor our activity, such as sleep and fitness trackers, telehealth apps to monitor our diet and visit a virtual general practitioner, as well as social media and online forums to discuss health issues. We are already comfortable using technology to improve our health, and it is up to an employer to actively encourage that.

For example, at Jcurve, we hold virtual fitness week challenges and regular virtual yoga events to encourage healthy work-life balance and promote a positive outlook.

  • Last question, what are simple steps businesses can do to start building a healthier culture? What aspects should be taken into consideration?

Answer: Here are simple steps to start building a healthier culture:

  1. Build trust with your employees. That means always doing what you say you are going to do, being fair, respectful, and inclusive.
  2. Treat staff as individuals; there is no one size fits all. Invest in their learning and development.
  3. Make it easy for staff. Take away the friction points and have a bias toward action.
  4. Listen to staff, seek their feedback, and put yourself in their shoes.
  5. Meet and exceed your staff’s expectations. Go above and beyond just as you would for your customers.
  6. Take ownership of mistakes. Employers get it wrong sometimes. Own it and fix it.
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Stephen Canning is the Chief Executive Officer at Jcurve, a leading business transformation provider offering a broad range of services. As a passionate technologist, Stephen has progressed through various IT roles and industries, bringing a wealth of knowledge and expertise in strategic planning, execution, and business development. In the past six years, his focus on cultural health has successfully built high-performing teams, allowing Jcurve to be a trusted business transformation advisor to ambitious organizations across the Asia Pacific.

Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Content rights: This exclusive interview content is produced by HR in ASIA. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in this interview is prohibited. You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content.

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