Case Study: Cisco's HR strategy focusses on human connection and wellbeing

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While digital transformation and innovation has been accelerated by the pandemic, the biggest challenge of remote working has been a loss in human connection.

Digital Nation spoke to James Comer, Cisco’s Head of HR in Australia and New Zealand about the ways the organisation worked to recreate this human connection and support employees in a work from home environment.

While employees were connecting and collaborating for work, the biggest challenge was encouraging connection beyond business purposes, says Comer.

“Making sure that there was an opportunity for people to take a step back from the day to day rigour, the day to day back to back calls, that increased volume of connection people were needing to make in the absence of the office, and make sure that they had space to connect together as human beings and replace that social element that was missing from being able to interact with people in the office,” he says.

Cisco ran global wellbeing surveys every quarter, and from that research learned that the business leaders were one of the groups who suffered the most.

The challenges that people, particularly leaders, were confronted with regularly during the pandemic meant that these forms of check-ins and conversations provided much needed emotional support, says Comer.

Cisco’s female employees were the other group that experienced the most difficulty and whose wellbeing suffered during the pandemic.

“As we thought about the support that we needed to get to the ground level, that really continues to influence very much a lot of the content, the approach, and also the flexibility that we offer our women in terms of making sure that we're supporting in terms of both their personal and social wellbeing.”

Cisco has developed a channel called Team Space designed to help leaders stay connected to dispersed teams.

“What we found was that this became a channel for people to also talk about their wellbeing and the number of challenges that we uncovered through use of that technology and that tool that is so core to our employee experience about people's wellbeing was staggering.”

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