Never underestimate the importance of company culture

As an expert in Career Management, Elisabetta Farina explains how businesses can maximise the value of their employees while also creating a supportive and nurturing environment.

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Welcome to another edition of Fast Five - our fortnightly series where we ask Victoria’s most influential and exciting business leaders five simple questions to get a glimpse of the behind-the-scenes operations impacting different industries.

This week, we spoke to Elisabetta Farina, Founder and Managing Director at Prima Group - a diverse organisation helping business overcome critical challenges through outplacement, career transition, employee assistance and coaching programs.

With more than 18 years’ experience in career management, the past 12 months have been a unique period for Elisabetta and the Prima Group. But with any new obstacle comes a new lesson and opportunity for growth. 

Elisabetta Farina, Founder and Managing Director at Prima Group.#1: What advice would you give a business going through an organisational change?

With any change program that results in redundancies, the main emphasis for many organisations is getting the new business model right and supporting those who are leaving. Not enough emphasis, in my opinion, is placed on supporting the remaining employees and securing their engagement and buy-in on the new business model.

Proactive outplacement is essential if managers want to send the right messages to employees, but the job doesn’t stop there. The individual’s role in the new organisation and the opportunities that the new structure provides for individual development need to be communicated to the remaining employees so they remain optimistic and engaged in a time of uncertainty and upheaval.

#2: How is the ‘work from home’ evolution impacting businesses?

Global research indicates that over the last 12 months, most employees have enjoyed the extra flexibility of working from home and self-reported uplift in productivity and engagement as a result.

Organisations need to be aware, however, that this model doesn’t suit all, and increasingly these work-from-home arrangements will be the preference for fewer and fewer employees. More so than ever before, front-line managers now need the skills and tools to frequently check-in and connect with their direct reports, in a positive and supportive way, to ensure they are safe, engaged and feel supported.

#3: How important has mental health grown as an issue for businesses?

Reported mental health issues, EAP calls, WorkCover claims associated with mental health and days lost to mental health, have increased dramatically in the last five years. This trend has accelerated during COVID-19 as a result of greater uncertainty around job security, financial well-being and the difficulties some have with working from home arrangements.

Today, in most boardrooms, the issue of mental health is discussed as a financial, reputational, productivity and legal risk.

Stepping into the future, organisations need to tackle the problem of mental health in the workplace in the same way that they have traditionally tackled physical health and safety and focus on prevention rather than cure through better job design and evidence-based positive mental health interventions.

#4: What advice would you give to a young person starting their career?

Work on knowing yourself and finding your passion. The world of work is changing rapidly and new jobs are being invented every day.

If you are passionate about what you do, you will be successful in what you do, and more opportunities will open for you.

Supporting your livelihood is important, but never underestimate the importance of a company’s culture and the way this impacts your well-being at work. When you are engaged in work that you are passionate about, and your values and company’s values are aligned, this is when you thrive and can learn and grow both personally and professionally.

#5: What personal motivation do you turn to in tough times that drives your success?

I am a very driven person and find real meaning in what I do each day. That allows me to dig deeper when things are tough. I work in the caring sector and have a responsibility to support our candidates and our staff who work in an emotionally complex environment.

When things get tough, I focus on the positive impact that our work has on people’s lives.

This doesn’t mean that what I do is free of its challenges, or its sacrifices. Being a full-time mum, balancing work and home life, and making time for my relationships is a juggling act, but one that is worthwhile because I know that, at the end of my workday, what I have accomplished has helped others. 

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