The pace of technological change, always-on culture and change in consumer and younger generational needs has done a lot to drive this, and we have seen abgrowth in moral, societal demand and business cases to improve workplace environments as a result.
We have seen some great business examples and research that show a focus on organisational purpose and culture improves business results, productivity and employee wellbeing. Smart, forward-thinking employers that invest in staff wellbeing save money - period.
However, fast forward to 2021. Poor mental health is costing UK employers up to £45 billion – an increase of 16% since 2016. The global pandemic and prolonged period of home-working for many employees now means that a focus on mental health is not just about improving results for in-tune businesses, but a necessity for overall business survival, not to mention employee wellbeing. Looking out for employees working through a time of crisis, uncertainty and change is now seen as a duty of care for purpose-driven employers.
For so many people, the benefits of the initial ‘lockdown’ and home-working restrictions, such as reduced commute, more time spent with family and flexible working, have been outweighed with feelings of isolation, reduced human interaction and the blurring of lines between home and work life. Presenteeism is predicted to increase to the highest rate on record, particularly with a
large number of parents juggling home-schooling and work.
So how can employers create uplifting workplace environments for employees - provide a sanctuary and a space to thrive and be creative - under such challenging conditions?
Here are our top tips to help reinvigorate a virtual workplace and strengthen culture and belonging:
● Make team fun a priority. If yourself and your colleagues are missing the office camaraderie, as so many of us are, proactively suggest fun activities to take the focus away from work and inject that connection back into your team. Virtual coffee meetings, games, or quizzes are just some of the activities that can work here.
● Re-think meeting formats. Shake up the routine of zoom meetings by considering audio meetings where everyone goes on a walk simultaneously in their own local area. This is a way to lead by example to encourage movement and getting away from screens as a team exercise.
● Create positive accountability . Set each member of the team a task to invest and focus on themselves. Each week, a team member is asked to report back on the question ‘what's the one thing you did to invest in yourself?’
● Revisit your company/team purpose . Does it need an innovative refresh or a positive reminder? A team with shared purpose and goals feel inspired to work towards them together. People feel less uplifted if they don't believe in what they're working for.
● Create psychological safety . An environment in which people feel safe to be themselves; to offer ideas; to challenge; to experiment; to fail, learn, and innovate. Training and support on how to create psychological safety - particularly in a virtual world - is something that should be provided to all managers and leaders as a priority.
● Review communications processes . With everyone working remotely, what is the best way for your team to communicate effectively? Utilise tools and technology in a way that works for employees both individually and collectively.
● Produce, implement, and communicate a Mental Health at Work Plan. This should include:
○ Developing mental health awareness and knowledge amongst employees;
○ Encouraging open conversations about mental health and the support available when employees are struggling;
○ Conducting regular check-ins on the mental health of employees;
○ Prioritising a healthy work-life balance, as well as opportunities for training and development Access to mental health support/services. With 41% of workers experiencing burnout as a result of the pandemic (SHRM, 2020), these resources can help employees navigate these incredibly challenging times through additional psychological services.
Whatever you decide, always remember to measure engagement to support you in refining your programme throughout the year.
For more information on how to create an uplifting workplace environment or developing a mental health at work plan, please visit: https://petravelzeboer.com/
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