By Bianca Riley, Director at Atteline and Chair of PRCA MENA NextGen
In a world where mental health and personal wellbeing are at the crux of the conversation, it's important to look at how companies can keep employees comfortable, happy, and healthy. Employers have recognized this, as it’s pretty rare these days to find companies that don’t profess to have their employees' wellbeing at heart. Most will offer a range of policies and interventions designed to support workers, whether regarding their career, their physical and mental health, or various other factors that underpin their general wellbeing. However, according to a recent survey of 2,843 professionals by LinkedIn, half (49%) of workers today report feeling stressed in their jobs, meaning there is clearly a disconnect between standardized policies and ‘window dressing’ and legitimate employee support.
The report highlighted the top five issues that are causing said stress, which included work-life balance and workload, confidence in a future career, a sense of purpose, office politics, and access to tools to do the job properly. These provide clear indications for the kind of areas wellbeing managers should focus their attention on. So, acknowledging these are the most significant stressors for the workforce, how do employers across the region implement change?
Probably the biggest topic of discussion for decades: the mythical concept of a balanced work-life scale. This starts with restricting hours and using tools that help keep this in check. An example of this is standing meetings - studies show that this keeps meetings a lot more concise and productive, leaving more time in the workday to, you know, work.
For days where keeping to office hours is an unachievable dream, flexibility via working remotely, or even just a team change of scenery to a new space, will reinvigorate team energy and creativity.
Ultimately, junior staff will never enforce this balance, as the spotlight is really on the seniors to spearhead this. Easier said than done, I know, but these actionable points will make a difference in the long run.
Future at the company
This one is the simplest to combat, but often one of the most overlooked. Employees rely on a schedule of feedback and check-in meetings to feel they’re regularly being considered as a bigger part of the organization. Rescheduling or canceling these meetings and check-ins tends to send a clear message that their role and growth are being deprioritized, so lock these in and be as firm as possible on keeping to the agreed diary time. Beyond this, nothing sends a clearer commitment to an employee’s growth than investing in their future. This increases not only morale but also productivity and profitability. Investing in both company-wide and 1:1 training opportunities for your team will only help them, and the company, grow.
Sense of purpose
Employees have declared their need to make a significant contribution to society and are looking to use the workplace as a vehicle for change.
Choose causes that the majority can rally around or open up a conversation and allow for suggestions on how to impact the community, showing their roles are not just about maximizing shareholder value, but also about social purpose.
Nothing determines a business's success more than its culture. Bad culture can sabotage even the most robust workplace wellbeing programs, so ensuring these core values are strong, respected, and appreciated is important. So many employers expect 24/7 availability of their team, tacitly discourage taking vacations, and ultimately forget to care for their teams on a deeper level than if they’re able to meet deadlines. Conducting surveys and having in-depth discussions through the organization helps seniors hear from the employees themselves on what they need and want, helping form organizational procedures and policies.
Workplace stress can affect both individual wellbeing and organizational performance, so this is not to be ignored.