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Guest Blogger

With this year’s Employee Engagement Summit just a few weeks away, we’ve decided to sit down with some of our world class industry speakers for a “Speaker in the Spotlight” interview to hear more about their role, responsibilities and what they are most looking forward to about the event. Today we are joined by Eleni Bateman, Director of People at Forma…

  1. Can you provide us with an insight into a ‘day in the life’ of your role?

Each day in my role is so different from the last. And honestly, that’s why I love it! In general, I spend a lot of time talking! Whether that is interviewing candidates, catching up with colleagues or coaching team members through something important to them. My role involves both the operational and more transactional parts of HR as well as partnering with the wider business to ensure we have the teams, skills and ways of working in order to achieve our growth plans and make ourselves the best employer we can be. I try to leave some time each day for catching up with emails or tasks. We currently have a meeting block from 12-2pm each day which gives me the chance to do that and also get some fresh air and a break away from the screen.

2. How has Covid affected your workplace and your workforce?

I’ve always worked in Retail which has been hugely impacted since Covid began. For our store teams, they found themselves going from a fast paced, uplifting environment where they engaged with product and customers day in and day out, to being on furlough for more than 60% of the last year. Especially initially, there was a huge amount of worry and anxiety and one of the things that was key to supporting them through this was making sure they knew support was still there for them and also keeping them updated with key business developments, new products, new initiatives in order to keep them engaged and excited about returning. Communication was key. When the stores reopened, there was excitement but also a natural anxiety. We had to ensure we had robust H&S procedures in order to help the teams feel as safe as they possibly could. For HQ teams, the anxiety and nervousness was no different. What was very different here was learning how to do our roles and interact as a team remotely. Balancing ways of working challenges but also the impact on our wellbeing and mental health.

As we move forward now and the world opens up, those challenges will continue and it’s important Companies don’t underestimate the importance of post Covid recovery. It’s not just about opening the office and stores again, it’s about how we take what we’ve learnt in the last year and adapt. Keeping the positives and reintroducing the things that are key to our ongoing success.

3. What do you think the future will look like for employee engagement and the workforce?

Employee engagement is about the connection your team have with the organisation, its goals, mission and values. What that looks like for organisations will have changed dramatically over the last year. We’re hearing candidates ask more questions now than ever about hybrid working to help maintain a greater work life balance, our approach to Inclusion and Diversity, and our Wellbeing strategy and this is no different from what we’re hearing from our existing teams. An organisation must ensure these are embedded into their culture and values because without, they will struggle to remain a competitive employer and will no doubt seeing our teams disengage.  The only thing that has been increasingly important over the last year, is the power of communication. Teams want realistic, transparent and honest communication from Leadership. We shouldn’t forget the value of this.

4. What do you think are the key takeaways from the last year in employee engagement?

To challenge ourselves and the status quo. In Feb last year, we would have seen reservations about remote working even though we were hearing how much people wanted a more flexible approach. But we’ve now proved it can work. Yes there are challenges and things that are far easier in person, but on the whole we should take the positives from that and embed that into our business and ongoing ways of working. Globally, we have also seen social injustices which continue to impact us today. It’s important organisations are acknowledging this and creating a safe and supportive space for our teams. We need to upskill and empower leaders to drive this at every level of the business.

5. What are you most looking forward to about the event?

I am flattered to be asked to speak on the panel and am really looking forward to meeting likeminded and passionate HR professionals and hearing their view. I’m sure I will learn a huge amount for hearing them speak.

You can watch Eleni having her say on the panel discussion “How can we keep our colleagues engaged in the post pandemic hybrid workplace” on the 11th May at 3pm. Book your FREE Live Stream ticket to the Employee Engagement Summit here!

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