Are employees disengaged? Has it been a long year? Are you finding productivity falling and employees disengaged despite all your corporate wellbeing efforts? This is a challenge for many companies. This post explores how to create an engaging wellbeing strategy using simple tools. The continuing uncertainty around the pandemic, heightened fears over returning to work and growing challenges in managing collaboration across hybrid work environments are challenging even for the most sophisticated wellbeing strategies to address.
Even with great supports in place, employee feedback points to rising levels of stress and exhaustion. Reports of exhaustion due to increasing workloads and never-ending virtual meeting demands are common amongst employees. A question I am 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. Acknowledging that wellness fatigue exists is key to addressing issues that drive antipathy towards your company’s wellbeing initiatives.
There are many reasons for apathy towards corporate wellbeing supports, and some of them are beyond the control of the business. Uncertainty around the pandemic, vaccination efficacy and socialisation are key factors currently causing unease. Socialisation is a basic human need. People are starting to miss informal chats with colleagues.
Enabling employees to talk and explore the good and not-so-good aspects of remote working and identifying how gaps can be addressed ensures that a structured, inclusive approach is adopted when introducing new ways of working to your organisation. Hybrid working is now be the norm; however, avoid a blanket approach. Engage your employees in designing work processes that are suitable for their team and meet the business’ needs.
A Wellbeing Strategy Does Not Substitute Good Management
Company wellbeing offerings are not substitutes for good leadership. Good managers know that balancing workloads, communicating, and creating a good culture is an integral part of their job. The HSE Management Standards provide an excellent framework to ensure conditions are in place to avoid burnout. Using these standards and a workload stress audit template provides a structured approach for conversations on workloads and managing work-related stress.
In many cases, workloads have stayed the same, but in some instances, they have increased during the pandemic. Anecdotal evidence suggests many employees regard their workload as heavy or overwhelming. The reality is that there are occasions when workloads are demanding; however, if they are continuously overwhelming, burnout is inevitable. Ensure all team leaders understand this.
The pandemic has increased accessibility to a wide range of events, both from a personal and a work perspective, which provides endless possibilities. We now can all easily access meetings training and a wide range of wellness events online. However, the flip side is time. Time is limited and precious. The challenge is to choose wisely. If staff are reporting that their day is back-to-back meetings, managers should be asking employees to conduct a meeting audit. To simply ask ‘What if I don’t attend this meeting? How will it impact my work or the business?’ Challenge and question the value of each meeting for you and the organisation, and if it is not obvious, remove yourself from the attendance list.
Integrating Wellbeing Into All Aspects of Your Business
A sustainable, integrated approach to corporate wellbeing happens when companies weave wellbeing into their business processes. Integrating healthy lifestyle habits into business culture takes time. Too often, emphasis is placed on one aspect of wellbeing with little effort to integrate simple, healthy practices into the workday. A culture underpinned by wellbeing encourages staff to challenge, question, and be okay with not being okay. It also encourages staff to take space, and it is within that space that innovation thrives.
This requires continual engagement from staff, but equally, the organisation must provide creative ways to challenge the status quo and be innovative about how to integrate wellbeing into everyday activities. Pausing before meetings start, tag lines communicating the company’s e-mail etiquette, and regular check-ins with employees are examples of relatively inexpensive practices that can be weaved into the business process.
So, How Do You Keep Your Wellbeing Strategy Engaged?
If you feel that 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 about their participation levels in events and the challenges preventing engagement. Ensure that senior leadership also participates in events.
When organising wellbeing events, schedule them during the workday, rather than during lunch. Encourage staff to take short breaks away from the screen throughout the day. Consider scheduling a companywide time in the day when no meetings or calls take place. Market this as creative time, to encourage staff to reflect on priorities, reduce their task list or simply take their lunch without interruptions.
Implement an email etiquette policy in your organisation. This ensures an understanding across the business about expectations around answering emails. Actively promote your company’s email etiquette policy, which establishes ground rules for sending and receiving emails outside the normal business hours. Ensure that leadership drives this initiative
Finally, starting meetings with a one-minute pause, followed by a round table check-in enables staff to focus and provides a great way to assess the mood. Including wellbeing as an agenda item in team meetings encourages employees to share work challenges and provides an opportunity for team leads to encourage staff to avail themselves of the wellbeing supports in place. Start an informal team happiness index; use emojis or coloured cards to reflect the team’s moods. Underpinning this practice provides the encouragement of a respectful, safe space for discussion.
Overall, if implemented without due regard to organisational mood or understanding of current challenges facing employees, wellbeing activities will fail. Regular communication and engagement from leadership is required, and middle management is pivotal in influencing behaviour and encouraging engagement; therefore, it is important that supports are tailored to enable them in their roles.
For further information to support middle management in their roles contact Susan Keane & Associates here for a consultation.