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WORKFORCE WELLBEING: YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION

Wellbeing new years resolution

As we approach the end of yet another unpredictable year, many employees will be looking to the festive period to provide some much-needed rest and recovery.

But the emergence of a new coronavirus variant has brought with it a fresh wave of concern. The UK has recently reinstated its working-from-home policy, Australia are once again tightening their travel restrictions and Austria has placed a ban on unvaccinated individuals entering restaurants, hairdressers and events.

With fears that anxiety, burnout and depression will persist as we head into 2022, we explore what leaders can do to support the wellbeing of their workforce.

Make time for mental health

In order to support your workforce as they navigate the new (and not-so-new) restrictions, it is not enough to wait for individuals to showcase symptoms of burnout and react accordingly. As a leader, you must be proactive in your approach, seeking out opportunities and strategies that promote positive mental wellbeing in the workplace. Indeed, a recent ‘What Workers Want’ report illustrated that 76% of professionals felt that their employer has a responsibility to actively support their mental health and wellbeing.

The good news is that inspiration can be drawn from thousands of companies around the globe, accommodating a range of budgets and team dynamics. Here at Hays Talent Solutions, for example, we provide staff with a number of digital wellbeing tools including; access to health and wellness specialists, bespoke plans to encourage physical activity or get a better night’s sleep and a space to practice gratitude and self-reflection. We also offer Employee Assistance Programmes for those that want to discuss problems or challenges with a professional.

However you choose to champion mental health, ensure that you also take steps to look after your own wellbeing, enabling you to be there for your team when it matters most.

Practice what you preach

In the words of George Bradt, ‘they won’t believe what you say, they will believe what you do’.

One of the most effective ways in which you can support your workforce is to model the habits you are so passionately advocating. If you are instructing staff to create clear boundaries between rest and work, then avoid sending emails outside of your defined working hours, especially over the festive period. If it’s encouraging virtual coffee breaks or ring-fencing time for a dedicated lunch break, make an effort to attend these informal ‘breakouts’ and share photos with your team of time spent away from the screen.

Similarly, if you are promoting a culture of hybrid working as we continue to adapt to the new world of work, make sure to model collaborative and inclusive behaviours. Accommodate those dialling into meetings by having the appropriate technology to hand, such as digital whiteboards and adequate sound systems. During meetings, ensure that all attendees, whether in-person or remote, are assured of the value of their contributions and base the distribution of follow up actions on strengths and skillsets, rather than ease of access to the individual.

Cater to different career stages

Our latest report on the implications of the pandemic illustrated how the youngest individuals of your workforce are feeling the effects of changing working styles most sharply.

There are concerns that COVID-19 has made it more difficult to integrate into the labour market. Without frequent interactions with senior members of the team and the absence of a door to knock on, or a friendly face to turn to for advice, many young people are feeling alienated from company cultures and unable to ‘make their mark’ on the world of work.

Personally, I think the claims that these young people ‘may never recover’ from remote working are unfounded and dismiss the resilience and adaptability of many. What cannot be understated, however, is the importance of nurturing these talented individuals as businesses continue to operate under the restrictions imposed by the pandemic.

It is also important not to neglect the more experienced members of your team. While they are often in possession of established networks and a clear sense of purpose, they may lack the confidence to operate in these increasingly virtual spaces, leading to feelings of isolation from the teams in which they were once so integral.

There are a number of ways that leaders can tackle these challenges. If capacity allows, a co-mentoring programme, pairing more junior members of the team with their experienced counterparts could serve to compliment the skills gaps in your organisation.

For younger staff, a dedicated mentor offers the opportunity to tap into the wealth of advice that your more experienced team members possess. Likewise, access to the tech-savvy members of ‘Gen Z’ ensures that those with a little more experience under their belt have the confidence to navigate new and changing technologies.

Of course, to split your workforce simply by age ignores the hundreds of other nuances that exist, so it is important to ensure that all members of the team – from the working parents to the clinically vulnerable - feel equipped with the tools and support to tackle the challenges that 2022 will bring.

Create clarity with KPIs

Teams work best when they are striving together, utilising a variety of complementary skills in order to achieve challenging but realistic goals.

However, the pandemic has altered many of the traditional forms of collaboration and left millions of employees around the globe longing for a sense purpose, as their role was rendered temporarily – or even permanently - obsolete by various lockdowns or a shift in company objectives or outputs. As a manager or team leader, it falls to you to keep teams focused and driven to deliver results.

Clearly defined targets provide your teams with a renewed sense of job security, the benefits of which cannot be understated. Research has shown that employees with clear objectives or a sense of purpose within their role are less likely to suffer from depression and possess a higher cognitive function.

Leverage the excitement and opportunity presented by the New Year to reinvigorate your workforce with clear KPIs, as well as providing the tools for collaboration and innovation that enable these goals to be achieved.

Providing a track for your team helps to keep them happy, healthy and delivering outstanding results, in spite of the uncertainty that surrounds them.

The very best leaders can enable your organisation to thrive even in the most difficult of circumstances. Speak to our workforce management experts today to find out how we can help you attract, develop and retain brilliant individuals.

AUTHOR

Elly Boggis
Global Service Assurance, People and Culture Director, Hays Talent Solutions

Joining Hays in 2005 as an onsite consultant for Hays Talent Solutions, Elly progressed her career to manage key accounts in the UK, before taking the opportunity to move to Sydney in 2012.

Elly worked across Australia and New Zealand and was responsible for the successful delivery of Hays Talent Solutions accounts and the governance and compliance function as well as the project management of the implementation of expanded services to numerous clients.

Elly transferred back to the UK in 2014 where she is now responsible for ensuring we have the correct people, tools and processes in place globally to deliver cutting-edge workforce solutions that help our clients meet their objectives.