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Harmonics Appoints Change and Engagement Specialist

Harmonics, Ireland’s leading people change consultancy is expanding its practitioner capabilities with the appointment of Rosemarie Ryan as its Change and Engagement Specialist. Rosemarie has over 25 years’ experience in Learning and Development, Employee Engagement and Career Transition in global organisations. Based in Galway, Rosemarie will also head up the continued growth of Harmonics business in the West of Ireland.

Rosemarie is passionate about employee engagement and excited to speak to clients about Harmonics employee engagement survey capabilities. The Employee Engagement platform uniquely uses Neuroscience and AI to offer real time feedback to employers on their wellbeing and how they are feeling measuring engagement and happiness at work. Rosemarie sees that the transition to a hybrid working world will impact employee’s health, engagement, and wellbeing while organisations need to adapt again to a new way of working and support managers and employees through this constantly changing time.

Commenting, John FitzGerald, Managing Director of Harmonics said: “The world of work continues to go through seismic changes.  Our purpose as a change management consultancy and coaching firm is to future proof organisations and people through change.  Rosemarie has worked with us as a consultant for over a year and has received super feedback from clients, she brings a depth of international and domestic experience in the field of learning, development and engagement.  We are delighted that she will spearhead our growth in the West of Ireland, she is very highly thought of in the business community in Galway and it is great to have her on our team.”

About Harmonics

Harmonics is an Irish practitioner led change management firm with a nationwide team of over 40 specialists in their field. We support many of Ireland’s leading Organisations through our Culture Change, Employee Engagement, Leadership, Executive Coaching, Recruitment and Outplacement services. Harmonics is the Irish partner of OI Global Partners, a global consulting partnership with a global reach of 225 locally owned offices in 28 countries worldwide.

www.Harmonics.ie

Organisation Change | Leadership Development | Executive Coaching | Outplacement | Career Management | Executive Career Transition | Recruitment | Executive Search | Executive Financial Advice | Market Intelligence | Employee Engagement

For Reference Contact: 061 336 136

 

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One Big Lesson from the Leaving Cert 2021

Here is one delighted girl wearing her school uniform for the last day ever!

Sarah finished with Spanish today and as a Dad, what I noticed was much less stress than expected for the Leaving Cert Year.

The Pandemic has changed every facet of our lives. One of the positives has to be a change away from one final exam dictating your future after 2 years of study.

The introduction of Predicted Grades assesses students capability throughout the Leaving Cert Cycle.

Sarah has seen different teachers approach to predicted grades, some were more motivated than others. On last Sunday morning as an example her Spanish teacher gave her students a prep session for 3 hours in advance of her exam today.

The One Big Lesson that can be applied to your career.

If you have one annual performance review with your manager, it is built up as this One Big Thing. This One Conversation becomes the benchmark for performance evaluation.

Teachers like Managers who are passionate about their subject and show genuine interest in their students will have more engaged learners. It’s the same for Managers who check in regularly with their teams and show this similar interest will have more engaged teams.

As adult’s, teachers, managers and students we need to approach the future with curiosity and critical thinking and be open to conversations on how we can maximise our potential.

I wrote about education in ‘Future Proof Your Career’.
https://lnkd.in/e7dn6Tp

“Education systems are not preparing our youth for the future of work. we are still schooling our children for the industrial era, grilling them to have all the right answers. Each night my daughter has routine homework to do, answering questions and memorising facts. Why are teachers getting kids to remember answers that computers can give them in a millisecond?”

As Pablo Picasso once wrote ‘Computers are useless, they can only give you answers’

We need creative, critical thinkers with communication skills joining the workforce who question why and ask why not, not robotic graduates who can remember the answers for one exam.

Enjoy your celebrations night tonight Sarah https://lnkd.in/eHj_7zA and remember there will be many career and job changes along the way. One exam result will not determine your future career happiness, a lifetime of experiences will shape your journey. There will be highs and lows and that’s how we all learn.

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Harmonics Appoints Executive Search and Market Intelligence Specialist

Harmonics is Ireland’s leading people change consultancy dedicated to future proofing organisations and people as they face change and risk.  As part of the continuing development of its practitioner capabilities Liam McDonnell is appointed as Executive Search and Market Intelligence Specialist.

In this new role, Liam will provide Executive Search support to Harmonics domestic and multinational clients helping them identify and source world class talent to grow and develop their businesses. He has over twenty years’ experience of working with high profile organisations in the Executive Search arena.  As a Market Intelligence Specialist, he will also bring powerful support to individuals going through unplanned career transition, providing insights on the jobs market, sectoral dynamics and trends, supporting clients in identifying potential new roles, as well as advising on pay scales and skills needs, interview preparation and retraining opportunities.

Commenting on the appointment, John Fitzgerald, Managing Director of Harmonics said: “The world of work continues to change dramatically and at pace.  This brings uncertainty to organisations as they seek to anticipate trends while mitigating risk and new challenges to employees as they consider the skills and capabilities they will require to manage their careers forward. Liam has the organisational experience and market insight to advise employers seeking to attract top talent to key roles.  Very importantly, he also has the necessary empathy with people and the professional network required to accelerate individuals through the career transition process at what can be a highly vulnerable period in their lives.  We are delighted that he joins our team of specialist practitioners”

A native of Limerick, Liam has over 20 years’ experience in the Executive Search arena, partnering with a broad range of multinational and indigenous clients in sourcing leadership, senior management, and specialist technical talent. A qualified Coach and member of the International Coaching Federation, Liam also holds a Diploma in HR Management.

About Harmonics

Harmonics is Ireland’s leading people and organisation change consultancy. A practitioner led business, we help future proof organisations and careers. Partnering with organisations to anticipate and plan for change while protecting their business and reputation.  Supporting individuals through career change helping them navigate uncertainty and identify new ways forward.  We are passionate about both.

www.Harmonics.ie

Organisation Change | Leadership Development | Executive Coaching | Outplacement | Career Management | Executive Career Transition | Recruitment | Executive Search | Executive Financial Advice | Market Intelligence | Employee Engagement

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Factory Workers from Home?

Are we seeing the return of Industrial Factory Workers but at now from Home?

It doesn’t matter what sector, size or situation, it’s the same problem.

Work has become all consuming, we are stuck in our office bunkers beavering away with our heads down and there aren’t enough hours in the day….

The message from Organisations is clear – we want Agile, Adaptable people.

Both Leaders and Employees have delivered -we have seen people make huge personal changes to how, where and when they work.

The energy associated with this change is showing up now as fatigue and increased stress and is proving unsustainable over the longer term.

When I listen to people describing their typical work-day, I can’t but think of the old factory system of work from a previous century.

Is our work today resembling the industrial revolution where workers spent long hours to produce in dehumanizing, unsafe and disempowering environments?

Have white collar professionals become the modern-day factory workers?

Are leaders, managers and employees fearful of speaking up?

I wrote in my book Future Proof Your Career https://lnkd.in/eNhHBVV “The desire to achieve is within us all. If we are surrounded by a competitive environment, where everyone is working crazy hours, we work crazy hours too. It’s like the story of the frog slowly being boiled alive, not perceiving the danger of the rising temperature until it is too late for it to jump out of the water”.

If you are Leader in a Business today and want to attract and retain talent, the most important thing is to listen to your people and how they are feeling.

We really need to start a conversation about how we work today before it’s too late.

We help Organisations to listen using neuroscience through our always on technology Employee Voice 24/7 and Cultural Assessments – https://lnkd.in/e_P-c97

Reach out to us today for a free demo

#resilienceatwork #leadership #mentalhealthatwork

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The THREE things impacting People MOST this year

1- How to manage through uncertainty, frequent transitions and prepare for the unknown. The brain seeks safety and certainty, it builds neural highways to shows us patterns from the past on how we managed similar situations. The world is less certain and is causing stress for many people seeking this certainty.

We need confidence to make decisions without all the data.

2- How to stay connected and foster relationships when many of us have worked in isolation for well over a year now. In a longitudinal Harvard study into lifetime happiness and satisfaction, the standout finding was that deep and long friendships have the most positive and profound impact on life outcomes.

We need to be more intentional about relationships in every part of of our lives

3- How to adapt to the rapid rise of technology as part of every work task we seek to accomplish. The rate of technology change is happening faster than our ability to cope with it. Our smart phones are picking up more data about us than we know about ourselves.

We need to develop greater self awareness our own superhuman power

Here signing books as part of Future Readiness Workshops for Leaders.

Mind your mind!

#mentalhealth #leadership #coaching

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Here’s Why Human Connection is Powerful

I met this group studying neuroscience in London 8 years ago. At the end of the first day, Clive asked did anyone want a pint. This motley crew said yes and we have become best friends since.

This group has an incredible bond of friendship built by human connection and co-coaching each other through our highs and lows.

Our group hail from Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland. We have met up over a dozen times since in our host countries each year, today was a virtual meeting.

I am incredibly privileged to know these people. Our colleague Clive has just written his third and best book yet. ‘The Quantam Way’ helps us understand the science behind happiness and workplace engagement.

It’s a brilliant read and this excerpt speaks to me and the isolation felt by Covid which isn’t natural or human.

“When one tree is sick, the other trees will reduce their intake of nutrients from the soil to allow the ailing tree the chance to recover.

How do they sense this?

If you place a plant in a vacuum it will die

If you place a mammal in a vacuum, it will suffer the same fate.

Yet if you place them in the same vacuum they will both survive”

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Well, well!

We are all hoping tomorrow for an exit plan from lockdown restrictions over the coming weeks and months. The uncertainty of the past year has impacted our wellbeing at work.

This will lead to us starting to think about the future of work post pandemic and returning to the office in some form of hybrid working model.

If March 2020 was a shock to the system, so will a return to the workplace!

One thing we know about change is we all react differently to it, because our reaction isn’t completely rational, it’s led by emotion. we feel change before we think about change.

If you know who on your team is struggling with change, you can help them manage their fears, and come up with a plan to tackle any potential problems which may arise.

Our Wellbeing Survey https://lnkd.in/exm_ai8 is specifically designed to help keep an eye on the emotional well-being of your team.

The methodology is built on neuroscience.

This enables us to link happiness and engagement (our instinctive and emotional reaction) with purpose and direction (our reflective and rational reaction) for people to thrive.

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The Importance of Workplace Wellbeing

“21% agreed they had called in sick to avoid work when asked how workplace stress had affected them. 14% agreed that they had resigned, and 42% had considered resigning when asked how workplace stress had affected them.” – Mind

Here at The Happiness Index HQ, we believe that the long-term impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on our wellbeing has yet to be felt. Each of us has been through a unique experience that has changed us and impacted our health – whether we’ve been furloughed for the past six months, are suffering from work burnout or are trying to deal with loneliness or juggling work and homeschooling.

According to the National Health Service in the UK, the principal reason for work stress is a lack of support and understanding from managers/leadership. When people are stressed, exhausted and feel that they aren’t listened to in the workplace it’s detrimental to their health, happiness and performance.

THE IMPORTANCE OF MENTAL & PHYSICAL HEALTH

61% of employers think that communication of benefits and wellbeing programmes will be a top priority this year – Willis Towers Watson

Every successful company is dependent on healthy and productive employees – but more importantly than that – a caring and empathetic employer would put staff wellbeing and happiness at the top of the agenda!

If you look after your employees they will return the favour ten-fold. Valued and supported staff are far more likely to deliver better outcomes for your business. They will happily go above and beyond – even more so if they are aligned with your vision and goals. If you want to retain staff and increase the talent pool when recruiting – it’s essential to prioritise the mental health of your staff and make it a core part of your business plan. Today!

 Poor physical wellbeing leads to:

  • Missed work days – Even something as seemingly insignificant as an incorrect desk set up can have a big impact. Governmental data shows that, of the 8.9 million days missed due to Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disease, 11% are caused by keyboard use, compared to 28% caused by heavy lifting.
  • Presenteeism – According to a recent study, 45% of Brits admit to coming into work despite being too unwell to work effectively or efficiently. This particularly affects younger workers, with 55% of 18-25-year-olds saying they’d struggled with presenteeism.
  • Lost revenue – Data from Vitality shows that in 2019 ill-health cost the UK economy £9.1 billion

Poor mental wellbeing leads to:

  • Missed work days – Governmental data shows that poor mental health is the leading cause of missed days of work, with Stress, depression or anxiety accounting for 17.9 million days or 51% of missed work.
  • Lost revenue – The Centre for Mental Health estimates that in 2019 the UK economy lost £35 billion to the effects of poor mental health.
  • Staff turnover – A recent study by app jobs, showed that 16% of people switched jobs due to stress and poor mental health.

HOW NEUROSCIENCE HELPS US UNDERSTAND WELLBEING

The Happiness Index uses the principles of Neuroscience to help us understand the triggers that can harm the physical and mental wellbeing of both our employees and our customers’ employees.

Our work on workplace wellbeing is underpinned by neuroscience. We predominantly focus on the Instinctive brain of the employee and the “Rational brain” when it comes to organisational support. In layman’s terms, neuroscience helps us to understand people’s instinctive responses to their mental and physical health and the rational enablement of organisational support.

Want to create a thriving culture where no one suffers from poor mental/physical wellbeing? These are the three main areas that must be addressed:

Mental Health:

Mental health insight

Here we are focused on the issues relating to our psychological safety. For example, the positivity of relationships, healthy work-life balance and levels of stress.

Physical Health:

Next, we look at our physical health where we focus on our Instinctive brain and our need to stay fit and healthyThis is predominantly focussed on energy, nutrition, health and physical activity.

Physical health insight

Organisational Support:

When we understand the mental and physical wellbeing of our people the real work happens! This is where businesses step in to ensure they are doing all they can to improve/sustain wellbeing and they are fostering the right company culture.

Organisational support insight

Organisations who focus on these three areas position themselves as empathetic leaders who truly care. This creates a thriving and healthy culture where people will be motivated to come to work and help businesses fulfil their goals.

 TOP 5 TIPS TO BOOST WORKPLACE WELLBEING

Focus on mental health

Many companies provide easy access to plenty of drinking water, a gym membership scheme, or other physical health interventions…but don’t forget about mental wellbeing. Although we know that physical health (eg. eating well and exercising) affects mental health, the opposite is also true. If your team is too stressed to take a lunch break, they are unlikely to hit the gym or go for a run after work too.

Support Financial Health

Financial wellbeing guru, and close friend of The Happiness Index Gethin Nadin, told us that on average people take 3 days off per year due to financial stress. On top of this, Barclays estimate, in their Financial Well-being report, that poor financial wellbeing was costing employers four per cent of their payroll – which included issues relating to mental health. By paying everyone fairly, you can help minimise this. You can also help by providing other resources to build financial literacy.

Keep an eye out for Burnout

Burnout is a very real and very prevalent problem in today’s workplace, especially where employees are particularly engaged – 48% of UK workers have experienced burnout rising to 66% of US workers. There are lots of telltale signs that your employees may be suffering from burnout – The Journal Of Organizational Behaviour lists fatigue, irritability and health problems. Training your team to spot signs of burnout and create a safe environment where employees feel they have the resources and support to recover is also key. For more tips on helping your people with burnout, listen to Matt’s interview with Laura Giurge. 

Make it OK not to be OK

Encourage your team to focus on their mental and physical health, and ensure everyone knows you are a line of support for them.  Ensure everyone understands that they’re able to take time off when they need it – this doesn’t just mean the flu or family bereavements – it can also mean they simply can’t face it!

Provide work patterns to help reduce incidences of presenteeism

Create new, agile ways to work which support the employee. Not only will your team feel more supported and valued (the top happiness-impactor in our global workplace happiness study) but they’re also more likely to open up to you in the future about any wellbeing issues. This is half the battle!

LISTEN TO YOUR PEOPLE

Remember, there isn’t a one size fits all when it comes to wellbeing. You might think you’re supporting your team’s physical and mental health by providing Yoga classes, but if they’d rather be going for a walk or meditating, you’re not going to be making as much of an impact as you may have wanted. Don’t guess on people’s behalf. Ask them and let them help you to help create a better culture that fosters better wellbeing for everyone!

WORKPLACE WELLBEING SURVEY

“9 in 10 CEOs believe wellbeing initiatives are key to driving long-term changes to their business model.” – PwC

Wellbeing Pre-Built Survey Icon

Do you have the insight on how your people have been impacted, to ensure you aren’t facing a ticking wellbeing time bomb? Our Employee Voice 24/7 Survey data highlights that the prolonged nature of the pandemic has depleted resilience levels and people are struggling to replenish them.

We want to combat this and create a working world where good Culture, Health and Wellbeing is commonplace. So we created the Wellbeing Survey! Our Wellbeing pre-built survey is based on 3 themes, Mental Health, Physical health and Organisational support.

  • Understand and combat any anxieties or stresses your people may have
  • Identify and prevent wellbeing issues and position yourself as an empathetic leader who truly cares
  • Create a thriving, happy and healthy culture where people will be motivated to come into work and help your business thrive and fulfil its goals
  • Implement meaningful action plans and benefit schemes to prevent & combat wellbeing issues to build a happy and healthy workplace for the future

If you want to take the first step towards creating a workplace of the future that puts employee health, happiness and wellbeing at the top of the agenda, then click the button…

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The Neuroscience of Change

We’ve got big changes on the horizon. With lockdown lightening over the coming days and weeks, many of us may be starting to think about getting the future of work and returning to the office. After a year of working from home, this might be a bit of a shock to the system. Although some of us may be chomping at the bit to get back into our pre-pandemic routines, many of us have built a new schedule that will need rethinking as we re-enter the world outside our front door.Here’s the thing about change, we all react differently to it. But often our reaction isn’t completely rational. It’s likely that if you think carefully about returning to working in the office, you know that you were able to do it before, and you quite like being around your colleagues, even though they may occasionally microwave smelly fish. And let’s face it, you’re getting a bit bored of your calls being interrupted by the dog.

So why is it that so many people are feeling anxious about this change? To uncover the reason, let’s dive into the neuroscience behind change.

THE CASE OF THE AMYGDALA 

Don’t worry, we’re not going to make you do brain surgery or anything that’s going to make your brain hurt, too much. But it might be useful to just have a quick refresh on the main structures of the brain. For our purposes here, we’re only going to look at two main kinds of structures, parts of the brain that react quickly and instinctively, and those that react more slowly and rationally.

The amygdala is an example of a part of the brain that reacts very quickly. This is because it’s the part of the brain that reacts to danger. This could be anything from not being able to see where you’re going because there’s a large and hungry-looking lion in front of you, or not being able to see where you’re going because a very big change is looming. Unfortunately, your amygdala works very quickly and doesn’t make any distinction between the two situations. This isn’t entirely unreasonable – for the last year or so, going into the office has been relatively unsafe.

Fight or flight when returning to work

This means that when you find yourself in a dangerous situation, your amygdala kicks in and helps you get out of there. This is commonly known as the “fight or flight” response. Of course, this is great when the danger your amygdala is reacting to is a lion. It’s less great when it’s the perceived danger of moving back to an office. If you’re a team leader, manager, or working in HR, you may have been on the receiving end of people’s fight or flight response when it comes to going back to the office.

The important thing to remember is that when the amygdala is activated people feel less secure and safe, the emotional part of their brain is lacking the security it craves and is sending danger signals. In short, in the face of change, people will feel less happy because their emotional brain is destabilised.

WALK TOWARDS, RUN AWAY

Because of the way our brains are structured, our response to danger is essentially a big ON/OFF switch, which is quick and responsive, but our more rational structures like the limbic system and neocortex take a lot more time and energy to engage. This means that we’re much better at running from danger than toward rewards. Neuroscientists call this the walk towards, run away phenomenon.

What it boils down to is that even if a change might be for the better, our brains are more likely to encourage us to run away from potential danger. This is because our emotional brains don’t learn very well – there’s a reason they’re sometimes referred to as the reptile or chimp part of the brain – they’ve stayed the same for a long time. On the other hand, the parts of our brain that respond to rewards are very slow to activate.

This means that we’re likely to take a while to warm to something as being an overall good thing, whereas we’re likely to make very snap decisions about whether things are dangerous or bad.

USING NEUROSCIENCE TO COPE WITH CHANGE

Once we know that our emotional brain is being scared off before our rational brain can parse the information properly, we can use this information to our advantage. All we need to do is face down the fear until our brain realises that there’s no immediate danger, and then wait for our rational brain to kick in.

Of course, saying this is much easier than actually doing it! This is why a phased approach may be better for you and your team. Starting by meeting up casually outdoors in the first instance, or perhaps meeting a small group of colleagues in the office at a time. The point is to reassure everyone’s emotional brains that there isn’t a lion coming to eat them and that this change is, in fact, positive.

Once you start to associate the commute and office environment with some of the more positive aspects – like socialising with your colleagues or getting your favourite coffee on your way to the office – your amygdala will start to chill out. This will leave your slower reacting parts of the brain time to start to rationally appreciate the positives.

HOW TO MANAGE CHANGE FOR YOUR TEAM

One of our most popular articles, written on the eve of the first UK lockdown, is about how to manage your team through times of change. Here you’ll find some top tips about motivating staff through change – including how to ensure you have a vision that guides your team like a compass, to communicate change clearly, and to identify role models and clear leadership structures which will help everything on an even keel.

The key thing is to make sure you get plenty of feedback. If you know who on your team is struggling with change, you can help them manage their fears, and come up with a plan to tackle any potential problems which may arise. Our Wellbeing Survey is specifically designed to help you keep an eye on the emotional well-being of your team. This will help you come up with a tailored strategy that takes into account the individuals on your team, and the specific challenges they’re facing.

Click the button below to discover more about our wellbeing survey today!

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Prepping Your People for the Future of Work

Lockdown is easing, we’ve entered a new financial year and fingers crossed we’ll even get some sunshine! There’s a lot of change happening in the workplace too, which puts pressure on organisations and all their stakeholders.  As we start to move into what people once again are calling “The new normal”, it might be time to think about the future of work and what this might look like for your business, your people and company culture.

HOW HAS THE PANDEMIC AFFECTED CULTURE?

It’s becoming a cliche to say that the pandemic has affected just about every aspect of our lives… but it has!

For those of you who are familiar with the Kubler Ross’ Change Curve (see our simplified version below) you’ll appreciate that your people will be experiencing different emotions as they progress through this monumental change. You may have people who are still in the ‘Denial’ phase while others have moved into ‘Acceptance’. Understanding where your people sit within the change curve is going to be vital for organisations to motivate their people during this period of uncertainty.

Kubler Ross' Change Curve

This change has been particularly evident in the workplace and has hugely affected employee wellbeing, productivity and company culture. The question is, what areas negatively impact company culture as we begin the phase of returning to work and easing back into office life?

OFFICE ANXIETY

Recent surveys show that 4 in 10 people diagnosed with mental health conditions have serious concerns about returning to the office. However, 30% of those without a formal diagnosis are also feeling anxious about their return to work. This is a significant proportion of the workforce. It could create tensions and stress for your team if incorrectly managed.

TESTING & DISTANCING

Those who need to be at particular locations are getting used to a new way of working as well, with tests and distancing marking their daily routines. These are also elements that are likely to be a reality for those with more office-based jobs as we start to return to a new normal. These measures are likely to increase stress and disruption to the daily lives of employees. This needn’t be a death knell for your company culture! Increasing flexibility when it comes to timing and hours will help to alleviate this, as well as clear communication of processes and expectations so that your whole team is on the same page.

HEALTH & SAFETY AND VACCINATIONS

It’s important to remember that once the pandemic is over, Covid won’t be gone forever. NHS data shows that 1 in 5 people who had the novel coronavirus had symptoms lasting for more than 5 weeks, and 1 in 10 had symptoms lasting for more than 12 weeks. Health concerns and worries about safely travelling to and from work, and indeed within the workplace are likely to cause stress and even tensions within the workplace.

Recent polling suggests that nearly half of managers would support mandatory vaccination to return to the office. A US survey of office workers showed that 70% wanted everyone to be vaccinated before returning to the office. With these topics being divisive and emotionally fraught, tensions between managers and teams could be inevitable. To avoid this, it’s key for leaders and HR teams to create guidance and reassurance that help everyone feel safe and welcome within the workplace.

TWO-WAY COMMUNICATION

More and more employees are demanding a voice. This can be seen in moves to unionise in organisations across the USA, notably Amazon. But even on a smaller scale, we believe that employees are increasingly wanting and demanding two-way communication in the workplace. Our customer data highlights that since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve witnessed a trend in respondents sharing increased emotional detail into their wellbeing and mental health. We have seen a sustained increase in the length of the feedback too. Put simply, people need to share how they are feeling.

We believe that this emotional honesty and openness will be something that remains a part of workplace culture for at least as long as the uncertainty around the coronavirus remains, and potentially longer. We recommend ensuring that your employees have the time, space and tools to communicate their needs to their managers and leaders.

ALWAYS ON CULTURE

One of the biggest challenges of working from home has been maintaining a work-life balance. Meetings have been longer, chats more frequent, and more emails have been sent than ever before. Pre-pandemic studies showed that working from home had a range of negative impacts such as intensifying work, creating interference between work and home life, and increased working hours. These were also linked to negative health impacts in the long run. As more and more people feel like they need to be replying to emails and work requests at all times of the day and night, stress and burnout are likely to be increasing burdens on your team.

HYBRID WORKING

Polling shows that most people don’t want to return to the office full-time. However, tech giants Google warns hybrid working could hinder its culture, “As we prepare to return our workforce in more locations back to the office in 2021, we may experience increased costs as we prepare our facilities for a safe return to work environments and experiment with hybrid work models, in addition to potential effects on our ability to compete effectively and maintain our corporate culture.”

At The Happiness Index, we understand that hybrid working opens challenges but we also encourage businesses to be creative and progressive. We believe that a flexible schedule, with only a few days a week in the office, is possible with the right communication and transparency between leadership and the wider team. Company culture can be hard to get right, but there aren’t any absolutes. With the right approach, background and listening – there’s no reason hybrid working and company culture shouldn’t be able to coexist.

FLEXIBILITY 

Workplace flexibility is the area of change that is here to stay. With many parents having enjoyed more time with their children and people getting used to seeing their families, increased flexibility will likely be the norm. Spain is trialling a 4-day work week, with questions about whether this will stick post-pandemic. Data shows that this kind of flexibility actually increases productivity, and so we predict that these kinds of changes will be increasingly popular.

PRESENTEEISM 

Presenteeism is already a huge drain on the economy, last year Vitality data suggested the UK lost £92 billion to ineffective working due to presenteeism. Remote work could potentially further impact the effects of presenteeism. The key for organisations in terms of staying on top of this issue is to be aware of when people are struggling, which is harder when people are working remotely or in a hybrid model. In these cases, tools that facilitate listening will be particularly important.

MENTAL HEALTH

Over the last year, we have gone through a sustained period of national trauma. Not only this, but many people have lost loved ones in brutal ways without their normal support networks and behaviours. Data published in The Lancet suggests that one in three survivors of severe Covid are diagnosed with a mental health condition.

Mental Health has been reaching epidemic levels around the world, and the latest data shows that this is only set to worsen. In the UK alone, referrals to mental health services increased by 28% during the pandemic. Before the pandemic, the UK was losing as many as 70 million workdays to mental health costing employers around £24 billion. With the rise in mental health referrals, this is only set to increase. This could have devastating effects on your workplace and culture.

BURNOUT

Even pre-Pandemic, burnout was a serious problem in the workplace. However, recent research by Microsoft shows that 57% of employees are feeling overworked and 47% are “exhausted”. These levels of stress and unmanageable workloads will have an impact on levels of burnout that were already high. This may have serious repercussions on workplaces and organisations as they struggle to keep up. Ensuring you understand workloads, and how your team is feeling about the amount of work they have on, will be key to maintaining a healthy workplace and company culture.

HOW WILL THE PANDEMIC IMPACT YOUR WORKPLACE CULTURE?

Of course, all of these predictions are based on generalised assumptions. They may not all impact your workplace in the same ways or to the same extent. This is because culture is unique to the organisation, and to the individuals who make up your team – it’s essentially the company’s personality! These issues will likely affect some if not all of your team. The best way to ensure your culture reflects the needs and values of your people is simply to talk to them about it.

At The Happiness Index, we see this time as a golden opportunity to reimagine what your workplace and culture is going to look like moving forward. While this will need to be led by creative and out of the box thinking from your leadership team, the best way to approach wide-scale change is in consultation with your wider team.

This is where our future of work survey comes in – by talking to your people and understanding how their values, situations and needs have changed during the pandemic, you will gather key insight around returning to work and how the pandemic has affected them. This will empower you to create action plans and strategies to ease the process for them, boost staff wellbeing and create a thriving culture!

Click below to discover more about the Future of Work Survey:

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