Many people have used their time during lockdown to make changes big and small to their lifestyles. Others are reassessing the way they live, their sense of purpose and what really matters to them in life. As many workforces go remote and the boundaries blur ever more between our personal and work lives, employers will be faced with a new generation of people who want to do things differently. Supporting individual lifestyle choices and mental health will be of the utmost importance to employers seeking to attract and hold onto the best talent out there.
Assessing your wellbeing programme
The height of lockdown was perhaps the most difficult period for many. According to McKinsey, average life satisfaction in Europe fell to the lowest level since 1980 in April, with reports of depression and loneliness increasing at a staggering rate. These periods of depression, lack of exercise or social cohesion can leave a longer-term impact on people. Health outcomes may very well worsen for certain members of the population with many outpatient appointments and elective surgeries cancelled for several months. Anxiety and uncertainty will be ongoing problems for individuals and employers alike. Employers need to respond to these concerns.
The main determinants of well-being for individuals include health, job satisfaction, relationships, income and employment as stated in research from McKinsey. As an employer, you can have a significant impact on the wellbeing of your people through helping them feel more satisfied in their jobs, enabling them to upskill, engaging their input in the future of the company and by being responsive and flexible to their needs. In this context, have you assessed how fit-for-purpose your existing health and wellness programmes are? What additional support do you need to provide to your people? It’s crucial to lead with empathy and respect that every individual has entirely different personal circumstances which to them are all-consuming. Their ability to cope with individual challenges, circumstances and needs differs significantly.
Building a hybrid workforce
A survey carried out by AIB in June in conjunction with Amárach Research revealed that the vast majority of people (80%) did not want to work in the office five days a week. Looking at the data from a more holistic perspective, we can see that people are implementing a number of lifestyle changes enabled by more flexible working arrangements and it’s unlikely they will want to give up their new found work-life balance. This has an impact on society as a whole as we tackle issues around gender equality, housing and the environment.
The Government has recognised this and pledged to bring in measures to permanently increase remote working in a bid to promote a better work life balance as well as other societal benefits. Employers will have to recognise this as they build new hybrid models for their people and acknowledge that this is not just about individuals, but about shaping a new society.
Evolving your culture
Culture and social cohesion are also key to how a workplace will have to evolve. It can be hard to replicate the sense of togetherness virtually that comes from being physically present. This social aspect of work contributes greatly to a sense of belonging. Trust, cohesion and collaboration are all aspects that are at risk of suffering when you work remotely. Divisions can appear when some people work remotely and others spend more time in the office, creating a ‘two-tier’ culture. Employers need to be mindful of this and ensure nobody gets left behind.
Experimenting with different ways to protect and grow your work culture through other means than just all-team Zoom calls, but digital-events, peer to peer support, mentorship programmes or informal group-chats will be key for success. Many teams can work very well remotely, or as part of a hybrid model, however it’s crucial to check-in with your people regularly on a one to one basis. Stay proactive and creative about building a sense of shared purpose among your people.
Leading the way
In summary, the need for leaders to build a more evolved and nuanced culture, environment and programmes for their people is paramount to the ability of that organisation to continue to attract and retain talent. Those organisations that truly assess and truly engage with their people on the effectiveness of their culture and existing health and wellness programmes; will lead the way when it comes to talent, and ultimately business success.
To discuss how best to ensure your culture is fit for purpose in the context of our new post lockdown working environment, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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