Niamh O’Neill (pictured above)
Interim Chief of Staff, Elavon Europe
Two years of pandemic working practices has businesses reflecting on what their customers and employees want, to become workforces of the future.
“What is the future of work? That’s a lot to unpack!” laughs Niamh O’Neill, interim Chief of Staff for Elavon Europe. “But I can tell you what we’ve learned and what that means we’ll be asking ourselves going forward.”
Having worked in fintech since 2003, Niamh has spent more than 16 years working for Elavon in product, marketing and, most recently, as interim Chief of Staff – experiencing changes in work culture from entry-level to the c-suite.
“Elavon has always embraced change, but wow, did we learn how good we are at it in the last two years!” says O’Neill. “We confirmed how robust, stable and united we are when it hits the fan. We’ve also met everyone’s children, their pets and even seen inside their fridges. We really got to know ourselves and each other, re-evaluated what we do and questioned ourselves – which is good.
“Now is the opportunity to shape how we want things to be, and how we want to live and work our lives.”
‘Flexible’ is flexing
“You hear everywhere about the ‘great resignation’,” says O’Neill. “Our attrition rates are similar to those before the pandemic, but it’s the type of people who have gone that’s a sign of the times we’ve been through.
“For primary carers that feeling of being ‘always on’ has been relentless. There was a time you were at work or at home or looking after those who needed you. Now all of that is happening at the same time.
“We’ve always been able to manage remote teams across a big geography, but technology now means people can work anywhere at any time and – while that’s good – we need to make sure it doesn’t mean working everywhere all the time.
Being resilient is as important to our employees as it is to our customers.
“We’re still listening and learning because we want to take the best route for our teams today, tomorrow and to keep thriving as a business – because being resilient is as important to our employees as it is to our customers.
“Flexibility, as a term, is no longer working some days and taking other days off to catch up on your life – it’s about your working day working with your life. Life balance really meaning life quality, finally,” says O’Neill.
“We already know culture is critical. It’s got to be inclusive and every day, on-going. The other thing is deliberate action. It can’t just be nebulous promises to attract people, it’s got to be authentic to properly close the gaps we identify.”
“Whereas empathy and wellbeing were almost benefits of our culture before, that’s changed,” she says. “Now they’re a must – part of managing, coaching and being sensitive to what everybody is going home to or surrounded by while working.”
Communication is key
“As companies, we used to focus mostly on customer experiences. Now it’s about employee experiences too. Attracting, onboarding and making it easy to feel part of a team even when you’re not with the team.
“Communication is massively important. Whilst we would have done communication quite well before. We do it much better now,” says O’Neill. “Even so, we need to keep getting better at what we’re communicating as well.
“There has been a much stronger investment in internal comms to stop silos forming and to help people feel connected, wherever, whenever and however they’re working. We’re also celebrating our internal pride externally far more. Sponsoring the Ryan Tubridy Show, being in the Top 100 companies for wellbeing with IBEC …. it’s all great for our customers to hear, obviously, but also about feeling part of a bigger team and united family.”