The workplace has changed over the last few years and technology has driven much of this change; from how customers make initial contact with businesses to how services and products are delivered.
Change can be a good thing, it can be energizing to come up with new ways of working but there can be down-sides too that should be addressed.
How will companies look after their staff through these changing times?
Here I want to talk about the very important role that managers have in the wellbeing of their staff. Of the three things I’ll mention, two are directly in the hands of all managers, the third (changing working hours) is aimed more at senior management and may need HR support.
Managers have an interest in all their team members being engaged and motivated because this leads to higher productivity. When we are not well, physically, mentally or emotionally, our wellbeing and so our motivation is negatively impacted. Think of the last time you were drained in one of these ways.
How motivated or productive were you at that time?
Among their many roles, managers are responsible for creating an environment that encourages the best from their staff.
Here are just three things you, as a manager, can do to support the wellbeing of your staff:
Prioritising 1-2-1 time
When things get busy, it’s easy to cancel time with staff. Although this might feel like the quickest way to buy back some time, you should think of the true cost of doing this. Your credibility may be at risk. How will this team member value themselves if you cancel a meeting with them? And what will they begin to think of how YOU value them?
By prioritizing your time with your staff you are letting them know that they are valued, that they matter. If after consideration you find you have no choice, explain why you can’t make the meeting with them and then re-schedule it as soon as you can.
Encourage clear work boundaries
As convenient as it is to be contactable at any time of day and night, this doesn’t make for a balanced approach to work or home-life. It is quite recently that we are beginning to see the impact of uncontrolled levels of tech in our lives. Have you ever surfaced after what you thought was a five minute web-search to find it was much longer than that? I certainly have, and if you want tips to avoid these ‘black holes’ in the future, you can read an earlier post here.
The time seems to disappear and we can easily lose track of how much work we are doing in our own time as the boundaries fade between what we call work and non-work.
But being able to deal with work emails in our own time has it’s advantages too: it can help us feel more connected and in the loop without physically being in the office.
Managers need to be explicit with staff about their expectations.
It’s interesting to reflect on what came into French law on 1st January 2018. In an attempt to avoid burnout and get clarity for workers around flexible-working, the French Government gave workers the ‘right to disconnect’.
How clear are you with your staff about the work they do when they are out-of-office? Are they expected to complete all their duties within contracted hours? Do you expect them to complete work in their own time or do you expect them to fully disconnect from work when they are at home?
Changing working hours
All employees have the right to request flexible working, irrespective of their home situation. This came into law back in 2014, so even if your employee doesn’t have parenting or carer responsibilities, they can ask for a change in their working hours. It is something you have to consider.
Your organization may already have flexible working policies in place (such as working from home, working different hours etc.) and it’s worth knowing what they are before your staff make the request.
Now if you are a senior manager in your organization and you are a small or newly expanding business, it’s worth getting the guidance of an external HR expert (sorry, that’s not me) in ensuring you are offering what you can for those staff who request some form of flexible working.
Wellbeing in the workplace is a broad topic and we have just touched on a few things that could impact on it. Next time I’ll talk about what each of us can do on a personal level to maintain our wellbeing.
If you enjoyed reading this and want to join my small community and get regular updates (usually once every two weeks), then you can sign up here.