What is Wellness Fatigue?
Many organisations have excellent wellness supports in place, and yet there appears to be a disconnect between the offerings and what employees are experiencing. Wellness fatigue is a key challenge for businesses over the next coming months. To ensure your company’s wellbeing events are relevant to staff’s needs understanding the levels of wellness fatigue is critical.
Even with great supports in place employee feedback points to creeping levels of stress and exhaustion. Reports of increasing workloads and tiredness are common amongst employees. A question frequently asked is ‘Where do I find the time to participate in these activities? ‘Wellness fatigue’ is associated with feelings of apathy towards wellbeing supports in place. Often employees may feel obliged to participate and see it as another task on their ‘to do’ list.
The Reasons for Wellness Fatigue
There are many reasons for apathy towards corporate wellbeing supports, and some of them are beyond the control of the business. The extended lockdown is hard and adds to the uncertainty around continued remote working. Socialisation is a basic human need. People are starting to miss that informal chat with colleagues. What initially was hailed as a great revolution, it is accepted there are both the benefits and challenges of remote working in the pandemic environment.
Lack of Good Communication
There is a real need for businesses to communicate that the light is at the end of the tunnel and the organisation’s intentions around future hybrid work arrangements. Acknowledging with staff this lockdown is different, and that it is more challenging for some shines lights at the end of what for some is a long dark tunnel. Employees are wondering about future working arrangements. Uncertainty around future work arrangements causes unnecessary stress, which can be dispelled by including and engaging staff on this issue. Organise focus groups and surveys to keep staff involved and updated with the company’s remote working plans.
Wellness Does Not Substitute Good Management
Company wellbeing offerings are not a substitute for good leadership. Good managers know that managing workloads, communicating, and creating a good culture is an integral part of management. The HSE Management Standards provide an excellent framework to ensure conditions are in place to avoid burnout. Using these standards and the HSE’s stress audit template provides a structured tool kit to encourage managers to have authentic conversations on workplace stress and wellbeing.
Ensure all team leaders understand the stress management standards and apply them in the context of remote working. In many cases workloads have stayed the same or in some instances, have increased during the pandemic. There is a real need for businesses to understand and communicate to staff workloads cannot be the same if individuals have extra personal responsibilities due to the pandemic. Discussions around prioritisation and flexible working arrangements are essential at this time.
Wellness Practices Not Weaved into Business Processes
Corporate wellness is not an add-on activity. A sustainable integrated approach to corporate wellbeing happens when companies weave wellbeing into their business processes and integrate wellbeing into their culture which takes time. A culture underpinned by wellbeing, encourages staff to challenge, question, and be innovative. Linking an organisation’s corporate wellbeing strategy to its core values further anchors wellbeing into your business’ culture.
For this to happen requires continual engagement from staff and equally for the organisation to provide creative ways to challenge the status quo and be innovative about how to integrate wellbeing into everyday activities. Pausing before meetings starts, tag lines communicating the company’s etiquette, and regular check-ins with employees are examples of relatively inexpensive practices that can be weaved into the business process.
Blurred Work Boundaries
The demarcation between home and work life is blurring. Encourage employees to create boundaries and practice good work and homelife hygiene. When using shared home space putting the laptop away when finished work creates a distance between your job and home life.
So, how do you address wellness fatigue?
If you feel wellness fatigue is present implementing events without checking in with staff is a fruitless exercise. Encourage team leads to check in with employees. Ask questions around their participation levels in events, ask what are the key challenges preventing engagement? And ensure senior leadership in the organisation are also participating in events.
When organising wellbeing events, schedule them during the workday, rather than during the lunch break. Encourage staff to take short breaks away from the screen throughout the day. Consider scheduling a companywide time in the day when no meetings (and ideally no calls) take place. Market this as ‘Creative Time’, to encourage staff to reflect on priorities, or simply to take their lunch without interruptions.
Flexible working arrangements lead to an increase in out-of-hours emails. An email etiquette ensures an understanding across the business about expectations to answer emails. Actively promote your company’s email etiquette that establishes ground rules for sending and receiving emails outside the normal business hours. Ensure leadership drive this initiative.
Finally starting meetings with a round table check-in is a great way to assess the mood and encourage discussion on wellbeing. By including wellbeing as an agenda item in team meetings encourages staff to share work challenges and provides an opportunity for team leads to encourage staff to avail of the wellbeing supports in place.
In summary, wellbeing activities if rolled out without due regard to the mood or understanding of current challenges facing employees will fail. Regular communication and engagement from leadership is required. Middle management is pivotal in influencing behaviour and encouraging engagement; therefore, it is important supports are targeted to enable them in their role.
If interest in exploring further supports for middle management click here