What happens when the glue starts to melt?

22
May
2020

We hosted the second in a series of exclusive masterclasses, strictly limited to 10 HR and wellness professionals, who are devoted to evolving their wellness culture and becoming more caring employers. 

Our Stress-Less masterclass gathered together senior HR professionals and experts from, Guildhawk, Howard Kennedy, Ince&Co, DLRC, Accord HR Consulting, Gillen De Alwis, Sintons, and Marriott Harrison to share the challenges of supporting colleagues with the emotional impacts of working from home and returning to work. As all were planning for life after lockdown.

Whilst there was a broad variety of different sectors represented, from global language translation to International law firms; all are grappling with some common challenges. 

WorkLifeWell has conducted a number of wellness surveys on behalf of clients, to encourage their teams to be more open about challenges that they are currently experiencing and their concerns about returning to work in an office. 

The wellness surveys have revealed that as many as half of the workforce are stating that they feel anxious. 

So armed with some evidence, we then started to discuss the variety of emotions that we and colleagues are experiencing. From grief, fear, and anxiety as well as the more positive emotions from colleagues who are looking forward to returning to the office, there was a lot to unpack. 

We started to consider how we might be able to develop a strategy for helping homeworkers and those that will be returning to the office, at some point in the future.

Here are just a few highlights:

#1 Employee Assistance Programmes are not going to be sufficient. We need to do a lot more to truly care for our colleagues and give them the support they need. 

#2 Whilst some like to work from home, we’ve lost the glue that binds us, makes it easier to collaborate and get things done efficiently.

#3 Colleagues are working longer hours than ever before and are struggling to strike a balance between their work and parental or caring commitments.

#4 Those who have been furloughed are having to deal with change forced upon them and are worried about whether they will have a job to return to. The remainder who are working are having to cover the additional workload, many are on their knees, and close to burnout.

#5 From the practicalities of working from home safely or returning to work and having to use a lift to get to the 20th floor, the physical challenges are hard enough. However coping with the emotional stress and anxiety is arguably even harder and could go on for years.

#6 What are the milestones and ‘way’ markers that will help us to know whether we are on the right track?

#7 We are under financial pressure, yet the cost of not investing in supporting colleagues could be far greater.

In summary

So much change in such a short period of time brings both positives and negatives. The businesses that openly shared their concerns and knowledge are clearly doing all they can support their colleagues, from encouraging virtual coffee breaks to weekly updates from the mental health panel and a lot more. 

With so many different personal situations and challenges to be taken into consideration, we may benefit from grouping them into physical, emotional, and chemical stresses, to make them more manageable and easier to respond to. Whilst considering all the risks, associated with these challenges organisations evaluating the potential impact on the costs associated with increasing levels of stress and anxiety. From reducing the risks of injury whilst working from home or estimating the financial impact of greater levels of long-term sickness. There are the practicalities of finding and training a temporary resource on COVID-19 health and safety procedures, at short notice. All of which can feel overwhelming.

Now is the time to develop or refine a wellness strategy, a joined-up approach to responding to the myriad of challenges and part of nurturing a new culture. A business-wide, longer-term approach to keeping colleagues healthy, well, and productive.

Encouraging colleagues to be more open about their concerns

Please email us, hello@worklifewell.com if you would like us to help develop and conduct an independent wellness survey to encourage your teams to be more open about how they are feeling and their thoughts and concerns about returning to work in an office.  

Let us know if you would like to be part of our next masterclass and share knowledge with like-minded professionals.

The Stress-Less masterclass is hosted by WorkLifeWell who cater for all your wellness needs under one roof.