eton Press: Hybrid Working & Mental Health

The pandemic brought the need for new ‘hybrid’ ways of working and consequently brought the need to reinvent organisational approaches to employee mental health and wellbeing.

Hybrid-working arrangements are complex, there are challenges with productivity, working from home inequality, collaboration issues, diluted cultures, work-life balance tensions and blurred communication lines. Despite these challenges, according to the new Adaptavist Reinventing Work Report, hybrid-working continues to be a strong preference across Australia well into 2022. It showed that Australia has the highest percentage of hybrid workers (34%) compared with those in the US, UK and Canada.

John Turley, Adaptivist’s Head of Organisational Transformation, when reflecting on the drivers of hybrid-working preferences said;

“Whether these costs are mental, emotional or financial, employees and employers will need to find a new equilibrium between business as usual and the way people want to work now — one that supports wellbeing as well as creating value for customers,”

The complexity of hybrid-work arrangements exacerbates the systemic impact of the pandemic. A recent report by the U.S. Surgeon General says the pandemic “has brought the relationship between work and employee mental health and wellbeing into clearer focus”. The current mental health and wellbeing state of employees across Australia isn’t great, HCA Magazine says poor mental health is on rise in the workplace post pandemic.

The latest Microsoft Work Trend Index states that 62 per cent of Australian employees are experiencing burnout, compared with a global average of 48 per cent. Similarly, a recent study by Beyond Blue found;

84% of employees think their employer should be doing more to manage burnout in the workplace.

20% of employees do not feel that their employer supports their wellbeing.

The main themes that are emerging in Q3 of 2022 across the board are mental health and wellbeing; both of which have a reciprocal positive or negative influence on our personal and professional lives. Every organisation has placed so much energy and thought into perfecting the formula for hybrid-ways of working and effectively managing employee mental health and wellbeing.

As Turley suggested, what if the new ‘equilibrium’, the dynamic between organisations and their staff, leaders, and their teams was built rather on the organisational agenda regarding mental health and wellbeing, that focuses on cost and benefit analysis, operations processes and compliance; but rather on a more people-centred, employee-voice approach based on TRUST.

Stephen Covey writes in the ‘The Speed of Trust; The One Thing that Changes Everything’;
“The first job of a leader—at work or at home—is to inspire trust. It’s to bring out the best in people by entrusting them with meaningful stewardships, and to create an environment in which high-trust interaction inspires creativity and possibility.”

Covey prioritises the establishment, fostering, relying and strengthening of high-trust relationships.
“Above all, success in business requires two things: a winning competitive strategy, and superb organizational execution. Distrust is the enemy of both. I submit that while high trust won’t necessarily rescue a poor strategy, low trust will almost always derail a good one.”

“In a high-trust relationship, you can say the wrong thing, and people will still get your meaning. In a low-trust relationship, you can be very measured, even precise, and they’ll still misinterpret you.”

Using a people centred, employee voice approach, leveraging high-trust environments and relationships means;

• Your team will be trusted, as experts of their own lives to co-create workplace mental health and wellbeing initiatives.
• Your team will have the psychological safety to contribute.
• Your team will work with ‘work for home’ inequalities and transform them into strengths.
• Your team will collaborative and be more inclined to carry the load together.
• Your team will co-create the culture of the team.
• Your team will support individual and team work-life balance initiatives.
• Your team will have and build stronger relationships.
• Your team will face into hard things and get through it.

The U.S. Surgeon General highlights the Five Essentials for Workplace Mental Health & Well-Being; Protection from Harm, Connection & Community, Work-Life Harmony, Mattering at Work, Opportunity for Growth. For more information on fostering evidence informed employee mental health and wellbeing approaches in your workplace, see resources below:

Five Essentials for Workplace Mental Health & Well-Being; by U.S Surgeon General
A Culture of Safety by Microsoft
Building Psychological Trust among Teams Webinar by ELMO
Elevate your Mental Health Strategy by HRM Online
Building Successful Teams by ReWork Google

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