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    Why mandating a return to the office is good for some but not for us

    Work from home

    What we’ve learnt from 2 years of working through COVID
    It’s been 717 days since our team first moved to working from home due to COVID. And during that time, we’ve completely reimagined our approach to work, based on what we’ve learnt from listening to our people.

    We’ve read through more than 40,000 comments from our employees about their experiences over the last 2 years. And we’ve thrown out the old stereotypes about the office – because our people’s expectations have changed and how we work has changed with them.

    Every business is different and for many, getting people back into the office is what they feel is best for their employees. We’ve taken a different approach.

    It’s not where you work, it’s what you do that counts
    We let the work we are doing determine where to best do it. Our people are empowered to make decisions on where they work, based on what they are doing and where it’s best to get that work done. For us, work is something we do, not somewhere we go, and the office is an enabler for work that involves collaborating and connecting with colleagues. Our emphasis is on the outcomes, not the locations.

    Getting social makes business sense
    If there is one thing COVID has taught us it is the value of connecting with team mates – we want all our people to feel like they belong and they are part of something. We have a genuine human desire to connect with each other. This is not a nice-to-have add on, it is a real business need for people to spend time with each other and learn about each other and the connections formed are what help people to work better together. Connecting virtually has worked, but face to face connection is important – but it doesn’t have to be office-based.

    If you feel good, you work better, and we all benefit
    Health and wellbeing is an intrinsic part of being able to work well. If you feel good, you are more likely to work better. As a health company we have always prioritised the health and wellbeing of our people, and the past 2 years have been no exception. We have worked to support our people through the highs and lows of the pandemic and our own data from late last year shows that employees working flexibly had consistently higher engagement over the quarter. And happy employees is translating to happy customers – our customer advocacy scores for Medibank have never been higher.

    It’s opened up career paths
    Without a doubt the virtual onboarding process has been challenging. We’ve always understood the importance of a great onboarding experience. But we’ve learnt to be more intentional about our employee experience overall, especially in key moments like onboarding. So in a virtual context we’ve ensured our leaders stepped up support of new employees. We also reassessed our whole approach to career progression. We moved our professional development program online, opening up all learning and development programs to all employees and saw a 25% increase in people attending personal development courses and the time people spent undertaking leadership training almost doubled.

    In leaving behind the belief that everyone has to be in the same office building to do their job effectively, we’ve broadened our talent pool, opening up opportunities for both existing and new employees from across the country.

    Traditional approaches to work don’t accommodate the way people want to live
    Our people have embraced the zero commutes, lunch time workouts, family dinners and school activities and they don’t want to revert back to the pre-pandemic ways of working. People still want to engage with their colleagues – this will always remain a hugely important part of how we work. We expect to see teams setting operating rhythms that include in-person collaboration and connection to achieve great outcomes, but who are we to say how frequently that needs to be in the office?

    The best talent will go to the companies that take a more future-focused approach to the workplace
    Top talent will gravitate to those businesses that offer the opportunity to achieve their best – not just professionally but personally. People want more balance in their lives and they are prepared to go get it – higher employee turnover rates are symbolic of this. We know for example there has been high resignation rates reported for healthcare and technology positions in Australia lately, so we are building a very detailed understanding of the drivers that employees and candidates in these cohorts have around career decisions, so we can refine what we can offer to this segment of employees to ensure it suits their needs.

    Power to our people
    While some might return to the practices of the past, for us there is no looking back. Our approach to work is about empowering our people to determine the operating rhythms that work best for them to deliver great outcomes. This is our future of work.

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