‘Putting your own life jacket on, before helping others’
Research shows employees are putting in an average of 9 hours of unpaid overtime per week.
Does this surprise you? Probably not.
Overwork culture – with long hours and constant exhaustion- is still seen as a badge of honor within the workplace. This is despite the WHO revealing the negative long-term implications of such behavior, including exhaustion, burnout, and a possible deterioration in mental health.
So, why do many of us managing others still lead in this counterproductive way?
Badge of Honor
There are lots of practical factors connected to overworking and taking on as many tasks as possible that are thrown our way. But socio-economic factors associated with ‘overworking’ are also deeply ingrained in our workplace culture.
Many of us simply work long hours to keep our jobs, pay off debt, or so we’re first in line for that long-awaited promotion.
For those that adopt a culture of long, intense work hours, there’s often a performative element involved. Overwork is often seen as a peculiar sign of success.
Whether this is defined by a fancy job title or lifestyle, or even by demonstrating actual exhaustion, the ‘kudos’ associated with overworking hold firm.
Overworking also depends on the industry type and role you are in. For example, people in jobs geared towards helping others, like line managers, tend to work longer hours that can result in physical and emotional exhaustion.
Enter the global pandemic
The pandemic has intensified negative work behaviors across all work hierarchies, with COVID culture impacting employees, line managers, and senior leaders.
While working from home has its perks, it also means there is technology around us continually throughout the day. There is not a clear separation between ‘being at work’ in a working environment and ‘being at home’.
Financial volatility also rose during this timeframe, which drives many companies to act with a ‘we need to get more done for less’ attitude.
Worryingly, mass redundancies and furlough schemes meant higher workloads, stricter deadlines, and increased concerns about job security. As a result, many managers took on a lot of this extra strain to cover the workloads of newly missing team members.
Making yourself accountable
Overworking is usually a top-down issue. It can only be tackled by a fundamental shift in management behavior. One of the big worries is many individuals in leadership positions are persuaded there’s no problem with it.
However, managers should acknowledge the risk of burn-out and a decline in mental and physical health if they continue to work in this way.
Furthermore, they are modeling unhealthy behaviors to their teams, which could have far-reaching adverse side effects. As more employees follow your example, the more likely it is that physical and mental health issues spread to become a company-wide epidemic.
What’s more, it’s not helping companies either. Employees who are feeling an imbalanced state of well-being are 33 percent more likely to seek a new role elsewhere. In contrast, when an employee experiences positive well-being, this drops to 8 percent.
Considering such findings, managers need to look at ways to protect their mental health and wellbeing, which can be mirrored to their teams, encouraging others to follow suit.
Where to start
Start small. Take those breaks. Make sure you’re taking all your annual leave, and delineate some time where devices are turned off, and you don’t look at them. Everyone needs some clear headspace and others need to know this is a company-wide expectation.
Get a temperature check on how those around you feel about their workloads by running a few short, informal meetings, either online or in-person, so teams don’t feel further stressed.
There are unexpected benefits to caring for employees who feel unable to switch off from work. More employees will be loyal to you, as a manager, if you recognize signs of distress and urge them to take time out.
Promoting emotional health
Leading by example is easier to achieve if you feel confident in doing so.
You need to be aware of the support offerings provided by your workplace. A useful workplace wellbeing strategy blends physical offerings like private health assessments, onsite or subsidized gym memberships with emotional wellbeing support.
Liaising with HR and ensuring policies contain these perspectives is important. Ask about the possibility of additional training in Mental Health Awareness, to help you notice the signs of possible mental health issues in yourself and others.
Company offerings like employee assistance programs (EAPs) and cognitive behavioral therapy may be something to discuss as a permanent investment. The presence of an emotional wellbeing therapist in the workplace communicates clearly that conversations about mental health are welcome and expected.
Digital or virtual therapy solutions can be effective too. Remember, for many people, the notion of sharing a vulnerability or admitting a problem, is a barrier in itself. However, some research suggests psychotherapy conducted online is as effective as face-to-face sessions. During 2020 Nuffield Health therapists delivered 3.7 million minutes of therapy remotely.
Encouraging physical activity
Evidence suggests that executives who look after their physical health are more effective leaders. Frequent exercise boosts brain health, improving memory function and the ability to process new information. Exercise can also improve sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression, and anxiety.
It is important physical health is not overlooked in workplaces where there are high-stress levels and a culture of long work hours.
The less anxious you are and the better you are at reacting to the circumstances around you, the better you’ll work under pressure.
Managers should look for gaps in their routines where they could replace something sedentary with exercise.
Why not try shaking up work routines with activities by organizing ‘walk and talk’ meetings? These can make gatherings more efficient as employees are likely to become energized than lethargic during a brisk walk.
As restrictions begin to lift, take advantage of any offerings from your company like discounted or free memberships to local gyms, classes, or taking part in a sponsored workplace group in a charity event like a fundraising run. Encourage people to join you, to increase physical activity across your teams.
For those working from home, continue to offer a level of flexibility for when people exercise. This is so employees feel comfortable exercising when it is convenient for them. It’s important those who began a fitness routine at home do not stop because they feel guilty working out when others are in the office.
By Gosia Bowling, National Lead for Emotional Wellbeing, Nuffield Health.
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‘Putting your own life jacket on, before helping others’
The COVID-19 era of work and life has been a crazy ride. Life was seemingly put on hold for many months last year and parts of it are still not back to normal today. As we all work to get past COVID-19 and the long-lasting impact on work and life, one thing has surely changed for good — the corporate office.
Recently, GoodHire surveyed 3,500 Americans to gain a better understanding of what has actually changed in the world of office work as well as remote work.
What they uncovered seems to be extremely useful information for recruiters, HR pros, and their employers.
Remote Work is King
GoodHire’s survey found that an overwhelming 68% of Americans would opt for remote work over in-office work. This is a huge shift from previous decades in which the majority of people had never experienced even a single day of remote work.
In most cases, people now have the technology at their disposal to perform at a high level from any location, so it makes sense that they would prefer to avoid their usual commute, office clothes, and many other things that bother the average office worker.
What’s even more shocking is the part of the survey which revealed that 61% of survey respondents said they would take a salary cut just to continue working remotely!
It’s clear that the people want to maintain remote work, and they’ll literally pay for it.
Adjusting to the New Normal
Just because employees are fond of remote work, that doesn’t mean employers feel the same way. But should they?
The same survey revealed that 67% of Americans believe that companies not offering remote work would struggle to attract applicants, and many also stated that those same companies not offering remote work might have to increase salaries to attract talent willing to work in the office.
This is hugely important information for recruiting purposes. In order to attract top talent, employers must consider the option of a hybrid approach or even a remote-first setup.
While recruiting for remote roles can be more difficult at times due to the lack of face-to-face interaction, recruiting pros are becoming increasingly more adept at this process as the year goes on. And for good reason. Companies offering remote work are offering more than just that, and it means a lot to their employees.
They’re offering freedom, autonomy, and trust. They’re straying away from the old-school office environment that so many dislike. And by embracing remote work, companies are giving themselves a head-start toward attracting the nation’s top talent.
Keeping Current Employees Happy
While recruiting can be hugely helped by offering remote opportunities, we should not forget about current employees, either.
GoodHire’s survey found that 74% of Americans believe that they would need a continued remote work offering from their current employer to stay at their current job.
This is a huge shift for HR professionals who are not used to monitoring culture and working environments with remote employees. But the people have spoken, to retain employees and to keep them happy at work, remote opportunities are key.
More Key Findings
In addition to the findings mentioned above, GoodHire’s survey also revealed that:
A huge majority — 85% of Americans — believe that their colleagues and other employees around the nation prefer working remotely rather than working from the company office.
61% of Americans would be willing to take a pay cut to maintain remote working status. Some workers even suggested they would take a 50% pay cut to avoid returning to the office.
45% of Americans would either quit their job or immediately start a remote work job search if they were forced to return to their office full-time. Almost one-quarter of the respondents said, specifically, they would quit if a return-to-office mandate was instituted.
74% of Americans need a continued remote working arrangement to stay at their current job.
85% of Americans prefer to apply for jobs that offer remote flexibility, while just 15% would apply for a position that requires total full-time office work.
60% of Americans would move to a new city just for the opportunity to work remotely in any capacity.
70% of Americans would forfeit benefits to maintain remote working status, most commonly: health insurance, paid time off, retirement accounts, and more.
84% of Americans need to see COVID-19 safety protocols in place before considering a return to their company’s office.
By Sara Korolevich, Director of Content at GoodHire. GoodHire is a company that provides a flexible and efficient alternative to complex background checks.
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We’ve all heard the saying – sometimes you need to take a step back to take several steps forward. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the world to take many steps back, but in doing so, progress has been made in areas such as remote work scheduling, video conferencing technology, and understanding the challenges facing working parents. Unemployment has been a significant issue since the start of the pandemic, as a number of industries were hit hard and have yet to recover. As a result, employees have had to reprioritize in order to reenter the workforce.
In a perfect world, a career path would have no bumps. Employees would move smoothly from one job to another, each with progressive titles, increasing responsibilities, and higher salaries. But things don’t always go as planned, and when unexpected layoffs occur and bills start piling up, it’s far less important to wait for the next big career opportunity than it is to just get back to work. Consequently, some unemployed workers and new grads have been forced to take a step back by applying for jobs for which they’re overqualified in order to eventually move forward.
There are several reasons why employers may be hesitant to hire those whose knowledge, skills or experience exceed the requirements for their target role. However, there are ways job seekers can market themselves for such positions that can increase their chances of success. Let’s look at a few of each.
When asked about employers’ hesitancy to hire overqualified candidates, Jill Chapman, Senior Performance Consultant with Insperity Recruiting Services, provides several reasons. The first is compensation demands. Better qualified employees command higher salaries, and even if they’re willing to accept less for a lower-skilled role, chances are they’ll soon expect a raise. Another reason is that overqualified employees may be harder to manage or have more trouble taking direction than their less-experienced counterparts. A third reason is that overqualification could result in job dissatisfaction and boredom. While those who are unemployed may be willing to accept a lesser role in order to return to work, how long will they remain interested and engaged doing work they don’t find challenging? And finally, overqualified employees may simply use the position as a steppingstone or temporary filler until something better comes along.
Shifting focus to what candidates can do to ensure that more experience doesn’t yield fewer interviews, Chapman recommends applicants customize their resume for each role. Most job seekers already know to do this; however, when there’s a disparity between candidate experience and job requirements, it becomes even more important. In many cases, the skills or qualifications that make candidates overqualified may not be relevant to the position for which they’re applying and can be omitted from their resume. Rather than listing their most impressive career accomplishments, applicants should instead focus on areas of experience from past positions that directly relate to the new role’s duties and responsibilities. They can then use the resume’s summary section or bullet points under previous roles to highlight the relationship between past and future success.
Include a Cover Letter
Cover letters have become a hot topic of debate in recent years as to whether employers and recruiters actually read them. However, when it comes to communicating pertinent information such as why a seemingly overqualified candidate is interested in a particular position, they can be invaluable. Chapman suggests applicants use a cover letter to explain their interest in the role or company, citing specific elements of the job that are attractive, as well as reasons such as the company’s reputation, culture, work/life balance or even location. By showing that candidates have a genuine interest in the role and company and have taken the time to research them both thoroughly, employers will be more inclined to overlook their overqualification in favor of hiring loyal and dedicated employees.
Prepare Responses in Advance
Applicants should anticipate questions regarding their overqualification in interviews by preparing responses in advance. According to Chapman, citing a history of long-term employment with the same company can help temper employer concerns of job-hopping. Likewise, reiterating candidates’ interest in the role and company listed in their cover letter can work to their advantage. Finally, sharing references from previous employers can help convince hiring managers that candidates are applying for the right reasons and would be an asset to the company regardless of overqualification.
Candidates can benefit from thinking strategically when applying for roles for which they may be overqualified, and convincing hiring managers to do the same. As Chapman points out, the scope of the position may grow in the future, and candidates with more experience or qualifications could easily grow with the role while taking on new responsibilities. This could benefit the company in the long run, allowing for faster growth and greater profitability than if they hire a less-experienced worker who requires more training or doesn’t possess the same potential for growth. In short, hiring an employee whose qualifications exceed the position’s requirements can be an investment in the company’s future.
Due to the high unemployment rate resulting from COVID-19, job seekers are applying for more positions than in recent years. Naturally, those who are anxious to return to the workforce may expand the range of roles they would consider, including those for which they may be under- or overqualified. Employers now have their pick of candidates, and hiring those who are overqualified for a position can be both an advantage and disadvantage. Experienced job seekers must therefore learn to market themselves to employers while positioning their overqualification as an asset, not a drawback.
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Pre-Covid, the professional services industry was already focusing on ways to better foster employee mental health. However, the pandemic has greatly amplified the need for wellbeing support across the sector, with the impact of working from home and the broader health impacts of the virus taking a growing toll.
This should come as a warning shot to professional services businesses – well-known to often be fast-paced and high-intensity workplaces even before the pandemic. Indeed, poor mental health has a very significant economic cost to employers, with recent research from Deloitte putting the cost to UK employers at up to £45 billion each year (a rise of 16% since 2016).
Put simply, employee wellbeing is no longer something that businesses can afford to overlook. From embracing more flexible post-pandemic working to tackling ‘always on’ culture, forward-looking firms are already starting to benefit from investing in the long-term mental health of their staff. What’s more, recruiters and hiring managers are going to need to highlight their firms’ mental health policies during hiring processes earlier and with more prominence than ever before.
The impact of the pandemic
One of the most significant and lasting impacts of the pandemic has been the mass exodus of workers from offices to home working environments – this shift has had a significant impact on people’s mental health. In fact, according to recent research by ‘Divided Together’, 49% of UK professional services employees experienced a drop in the quality of their mental wellbeing during the first lockdown in 2020, with 44% saying they ‘were making an effort to seem upbeat when they didn’t feel it’.
This overwhelming decline in worker mental health can partly be attributed to the solitary nature of working from home, but it is also a result of reduced concentration levels. Professional services respondents attributed this mental health deterioration to missing their usual routine (46%), finding it hard to concentrate (44%), being worried about the health of others (43%), or spending more time alone (36%).
With restrictions easing, long-term remote working policies have been the topic de jure. However, it is how people will return to their offices that have the greatest significance for mental health. In a recent Totum Partners survey, more than 70% of firms said they are considering implementing some form of hybrid working policy in the future (some days spent in the office each week, others working from home). Done well, hybrid working can offer huge benefits to employees, providing everyone with long-term flexibility, all-important face-to-face contact, and critically, better balance for worker mental health.
Therefore, companies looking to hire new talent will need to show that their firm is willing to adopt hybrid working policies while also being able to balance the mental health needs of their current employees. With a larger proportion of new recruits asking about mental health policy and hybrid working in interviews than ever before, hiring managers and recruiters need to highlight this company attributes at a much earlier stage.
The ‘always on’ work culture
A further wellbeing consideration that has come to light as a result of the pandemic is the risk of the ‘always-on’ culture. Presenteeism and the inability to switch off was a growing concern already prevalent before the pandemic, but taking the workplace home has only intensified the pressure for employees to be constantly available, with people finding it more difficult to separate home and work life. This has been especially challenging for workers that have not had the benefit of a home office and have found themselves working from the kitchen table or at makeshift desks.
Addressing ‘always on culture’ and encouraging employees to set boundaries between work and home life must be a top priority for businesses in the post-pandemic era. In fact, those businesses that equate more hours with greater productivity, stand to lose not only the best talent and the best their employees can offer, but they also stand to bear the financial cost of workers’ mental ill-health.
When recruiting new talent, it is equally important to show prospective employees that the business they are interviewing for respects the need for a good work-life balance, especially in a world where the ‘always-on’ culture has become second nature.
A perfect time to find an effective solution
There’s little doubt that the pandemic has created a significant challenge for worker mental health – a shadow epidemic in its own right. However, the pandemic also serves as a watershed moment to address the issues that have faced workers even prior to Covid. Now is the perfect opportunity to address the deep-seated issues concerning mental health within some parts of the professional services sector. Those that fail to seize this opportunity, will not only pay the price in lost talent, but they will also see the impact on their bottom lines.
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Since March 2020, a lot has changed within our workplaces and teams. You may be permanently working in your home office, or your team may have changed its size or makeup. Even your role may have been adapted to survive the pandemic. As a result, it’s completely normal to feel a little lost or overwhelmed when compared to your situation over a year ago. To help, we’re sharing insights from our recent webinar with three incredible speakers: Simone White, Matthew Want, and Shakyra Campbell. While the focus of the webinar was on helping assistants (PAs, EAs, business assistants) overcome obstacles in their careers, we believe the advice they shared is applicable to almost everyone – especially recruiters.
Bring your whole self to work
During the webinar, Shakyra said we would aim to “be authentically [ourselves] at work”. On a basic level, you need to know who you are and understand where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Beyond that, it’s also ensuring you continue to bring the unique aspects of your personality to work as well. Many of us have seen different facets of each other’s personal lives over the past few months. Whether it’s a beloved pet or a treasured souvenir on the fridge door in the background of video calls, these glimpses of our colleagues’ personalities acted as a bridge to bring us closer. As many of us move back into the office, it’s important we continue to bring these personal aspects of ourselves with us. The personal and professional are now forever merged, so having the confidence to show your authenticity is essential to being able to succeed in your role.
Develop essential traits
If you’re feeling a little lost, it may be wise to focus on developing traits that you know are essential to you being able to succeed in your role. As recruiters, alongside being authentic in all your interactions, resilience is also integral. We’ve all experienced having a bad day, week, or month at work. It’s those who can get up again after falling down who will be able to succeed in the long term. Chances are, if you’ve gotten through the difficulties of the past year, you have more than enough resilience!
Another key trait for many is emotional intelligence (EQ), or the ability to manage your emotions in a positive way for both yourself and others. This is something you can develop over time, through various exercises, videos, and courses available online, however, starting the journey takes some level of self-reflection. Ask yourself: how do you communicate? How do you take criticism? How much empathy do you have for others? By building up your emotional intelligence, you can help the candidates you’re working with by better empathizing with their situation and managing their expectations. You’ll also communicate more effectively with your clients, which is absolutely essential for building relationships.
Recognize the importance of networks, sponsors, and mentors
If you’ve ever thought about reaching out to others for help in your career, now is a fantastic time to do so. You can do this by becoming part of a network or developing a relationship with a sponsor or mentor. Networks are helpful as they allow you to connect with your peers. Not only that, Simone mentioned that a network can be “a catalyst for change” internally within your organization. Inhouse Recruitment is a great example of a network, as they offer specialist training and a community for you to connect with your fellow recruiters. It’s also a good idea to look to social media to see if there are any virtual networks you can join.
Fostering a relationship with a sponsor is different from being part of a network, as they can use their influence and power to move your career forward. Your manager is likely to be your sponsor at work, so it’s important to be open with them about your future ambitions. They should be willing to devise a plan of action with you to help you get where you want to go, and therefore will be vocal in support of your next promotion or further training opportunities.
Mentors are those you turn to give you career advice, guidance, and coaching. Developing these relationships may help you shape the next steps in your career, so choose your mentors wisely! A good rule of thumb is to look ahead at the position you’d like to have in three-five years’ time and approach the person currently in that role to help you get there. Remember: a mentor doesn’t need to be part of your company or team, it could be anyone who you believe will offer you valuable advice.
Maintain positive mental health and wellbeing
In the life of a recruiter – some days are harder than others. You may need to work late to fill a last-minute placement, or you may feel overwhelmed with back-to-back candidate registrations. While these moments are unavoidable for the most part, you should aim to protect your personal time as best you can. This is because a healthy work/life balance is key to well-being. One way to do this is to treat your personal engagements with the same amount of respect that you’d treat your work engagements. Tell your manager that you have an exercise class or a special dinner reservation booked, so you’ll have to leave on time. Being open with your team about your personal commitments will encourage others to do the same and earn you respect at work for maintaining those significant aspects of your personal life.
During the webinar, Matthew talked about the importance of being open with your colleagues about times you may be suffering from mental ill-health. If they don’t know you’re struggling, they can’t step in and help. A common point of anxiety among many workers right now is the anticipation of returning to the office. If you’re finding the transition challenging, raise it with your manager, as they should be able to step in and help you get back to feeling your best.
The pandemic may have felt like a pause (or, in some cases, a step back) in your career, but working arrangements are now changing and you should be able to get back on your feet. We hope the above tips help you overcome any obstacles you’re up against and allow you to emerge better prepared and ready to succeed!
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Burnout is no joke. It’s an extreme state of exhaustion that can manifest as demotivation, anxiety/stress or feeling overwhelmed. Unsurprisingly, the rates of burnout have risen exponentially since the beginning of the pandemic. In fact, web searches for the phrase ‘signs of burnout’ were up 150% in 2020 from previous years, as many workers felt extra pressure to perform to help their companies navigate through the pandemic.
Like in many industries, working in recruitment has had its challenges over the past 14 months. At the beginning of the pandemic, many recruiters found it difficult to get in touch with clients as they swapped their offices for home working and put many roles on hold overnight. Alongside this, candidates felt either disheartened while job hunting or stuck in their current roles as they didn’t want to risk moving to a new role due to the economic downturn.
Now, as the market across many sectors rebounds and new roles are being called into agencies, it may be a difficult (and tiring) transition for many consultants as they try to keep up with demand. If you find yourself in this position, you’re not alone! Below, we’ve outlined four key actions you can take to protect your mental energy and prevent burnout over the coming months.
Recognize your personal cues
While chatting to Lead Consultant for Tiger HR, Aseel Ibrahim, on our Tiger HR Tales podcast, Tracey Carlton from BLME said it perfectly: “it’s so important to be kind to ourselves, and allow ourselves to just have those moments”. Part of this is educating yourself on your personal cues that indicate something isn’t right. Maybe you’re not sleeping very well, or you’re skipping the daily walk you usually look forward to. We recommend letting those around you know what they should look out for if you believe you’re in danger of becoming burnt out, as they may be able to pick up on these things before you do.
Stand up and say “I’m not OK”
Remember: you can only manage so much. We’re all still dealing with the effects of the pandemic, and so it’s normal to feel unmotivated or overwhelmed at times. If, however, you think you’re at the point of burning out, you need to speak to your manager. By reaching out and asking them to re-prioritize your workload, you can get your to-do list back under control. In these situations, taking a step back and assessing where you need help is essential.
Draw a line around your boundaries
As teams continue to work remotely or partially remotely, over-communication is key. This is also the case when it comes to your boundaries. At the very least, you should let your team know when you’re finishing up for the day and when you’re taking your lunch break. If you need to take a few hours out to finish paperwork or work with minimal distractions, block that time out in your diary and protect it like you would a meeting with a client. These healthy behaviors will demonstrate to your team the importance of separating work from home time, which in turn should help prevent overworking.
Build a support network
Whether it’s your desk buddy or your best friend, having at least one person you can offload your thoughts and feelings to is so important when dealing with difficult situations. Organizing regular catch-ups with your support network is essential to check in with how you’re feeling. It could be something as simple as a five-minute chat at the end of the week, or a monthly get-together over drinks. Whoever you choose, you need to give that person the permission they need to step in if they see you displaying negative behaviors. This way, they can act as a sounding board for potential strategies for coping and can get you through even the most severe bouts of burnout.
As recruiters, we often experience times of extreme pressure. We may have to work long hours or become stressed when preparing shortlists for several different clients at once. However, when it comes to feeling burnt out, you need to act quickly in order to prevent yourself from becoming sick or unable to function. By taking steps to prevent the cause, you should be able to overcome burnout and promote healthier ways to manage your mental health and wellbeing.
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People success platform leader Glint, part of LinkedIn, has published results on workplace culture that show that remote work is creating more inclusive and psychologically safe workplace experiences. The company’s Head of EMEA People Science tells us more.
Our global pandemic-initiated shift to remote work has had many consequences, but one that isn’t called out as much as it should be is equality. In many ways, remote work has equalized opportunities for employees to be heard and seen. In a virtual work environment, every meeting looks the same, and each person takes up the same space on the screen, from the CEO to the intern.
Virtual work bolsters inclusivity
Glint has tracked a range of metrics about our changing workplace over the past year. Their latest trends report notes that employers that have committed to supporting remote work appear to be creating more inclusive and psychologically safe work experiences as a result. In companies that support remote working, workers feel freer to speak their minds and see their companies as valuing diversity.
The analysis used a number of measures to derive its conclusions, including how many remote work-permitted job postings an employer puts on LinkedIn (over 275,000 adverts were surveyed from 375 organizations). Millions of Glint survey responses from over 600 organizations were also fed into the model. The analysis shows that employees at remote work-friendly firms were 14% more likely to feel safe speaking their minds. 9% are more likely to report that their leaders value different perspectives, compared to their peers in less remote work-friendly brands.
The study shows that virtual work creates many features that can bolster employees’ feelings of inclusivity. Virtual work can provide flexibility to people with caregiving responsibilities, bypass location bias, and reduce the amount of time and energy required to conform to potentially unhelpful ‘professionalism’ standards, for instance.
As organizations re-examine how to foster diversity, inclusion, and belonging in the new world of work, early signs indicate they’d do well to build on virtual work and expand habits, programs, and tools that help people bring their authentic selves to work.
Culture in the new world of work
This matters, as the survey also highlights the fact that what team members see as defining a great work culture has changed dramatically over the first year of the Covid pandemic—50% of the top 10 drivers in 2020 were not in the top 10 in 2019. Opportunities to learn and grow have emerged as the strongest drivers of work culture, shooting up eight positions.
In the first half of 2020, employees’ sense of belonging also started to impact employee happiness, increasing by 12% to become the second most important characteristic people look for to describe a great work culture. That’s one of the ways in which work culture has changed drastically in 2020. Work culture was once shaped heavily by in-person interactions—coffee breaks, shared meals, team retreats, and the like. But when the pandemic not only stripped away physical interaction but also threatened our safety, the less tangible drivers of work culture—growth opportunities, belonging, and values—became more important to employees.
There’s also a positive uplift here for recruitment and retention, as the research shows that employees at organizations with highly rated cultures are 31% more likely to recommend working there to peers and contacts, and 15% more likely to report being happy working there.
Employees want more from their employers now than just a pay packet. They want to be challenged, and they want to work in a space where they can bring their whole selves.
By Steven Buck, Head of EMEA People Science at Glint.
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Increased productivity, heightened workplace morale, and more competitive benefits packages – these are some of the positive impacts that companies have reported since implementing the ‘unlimited holiday’ scheme.
This new take on holiday allowance first started to grow within US-based tech start-ups as a way to stand out from their larger competitors but has since been embraced by larger brands – including Netflix and LinkedIn. As a testament to how much the scheme has grown, a recent job board report showed that positions offering the scheme had increased by 20% over the last year.
How does the scheme work, and will it benefit the business and employee equally?
There is no rule book for the unlimited holidays offering, and each business has tailored the value proposition differently around the levels of flexibility they’re able to offer their employees – some with success, and others with less so.
A well-known success story of the Scheme is Roku, a TV Streaming app company based in the US, who no longer offer an official holiday allowance to their staff, but instead promotes the ethos that if your allocated work is completed you can take as much time off you like. The positive result of this can be seen in their 72% net promoter score – with impressive marks given for work/life balance.
The scheme was less successful, however, for CharlieHR – a software company founded in 2015. Their COO Ben Gately explained in an interview that implementing unlimited holidays created anxiety within the workplace, causing the employees to take less annual leave than when they were given the standard 25 days.
Although this scheme has mainly been seen within companies founded in the United States, it’s started to move across the pond over recent years. Warren Butler, Marketing Director of the UK-based Microsoft Dynamics Partner, Preact, had the following comments on how the scheme has benefitted their business:
“We recently implemented the concept of unlimited holidays within our growing team to demonstrate the trust we have in our employees, which they had more than earned since suddenly having to work remotely due to the pandemic. It’s proven fantastic for business morale and applicants for new roles have doubled since we started promoting the benefit on our job specs.”
Preact is one of the many growing UK-based companies that have adjusted their holiday scheme in this way and seen a positive effect on their employee’s wellbeing. Although the approach isn’t effective within all organizations, these types of flexible benefits will become increasingly necessary to remain competitive within the employment market.
How to assess if the scheme will work for your business
If you’re trying to implement new employee benefits within your business and you’re considering the unlimited holiday scheme, here are a few different ways companies have pushed out the offering within their businesses:
Buy Your Holiday: The most common use of the scheme is allowing employees to purchase extra holiday days by taking a cut in their wages. This can, however, cause resentment within teams if people are in different positions financially.
Ultimate Flexible Working: This is the scheme that Roku has implemented within their business and has worked well for their employees. For this to be successful within your organization, it’s important to monitor people’s workloads to ensure the scheme is fair.
Commission Based: This can be a great way to incentivize teams within a business and push productivity, this version of the scheme would have to sit on top of the existing annual holiday allowance.
Whichever way you intend to push the scheme within your business, it’s essential that you communicate it throughout the workforce on an ongoing basis and monitor productivity alongside holidays taken.
By Lauren Fowles of Preact.
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Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, non-essential employees across the U.S. have adjusted to working from home on a full-time basis. As companies plan for an eventual return to “normalcy,” many are navigating how to reintroduce their workforce to an office setting. However, the pandemic has seemingly demystified working from home, and many organizations are turning to a new hybrid model that combines remote work and office collaboration.
In fact, Global Workplace Analytics estimates that 56% of U.S. workers have jobs that enable them to work from home at least part of the time, and between 25% and 30% of the workforce will continue to work remotely multiple days per week when this year reaches its end. Hybrid work models – and a hybrid workforce – are here to stay. As such, it is more critical than ever before that companies invest in the wellness of their workforce and consider methods to retain and engage employees in this new paradigm. Employers need to provide the hybrid workforce with the proper tools and methods required to achieve sustained productivity and engagement, regardless of where they work.
Physical Implications of an Employee’s Remote Workplace
The impact of an employee’s workstation on his or her physical health is no secret; physical therapists are experiencing a surge of patients complaining about head, neck, shoulder, and back pain linked to ergonomically unsound home office setups – and in one survey, 92 percent of chiropractors said that patients are reporting more neck pain, back pain or other musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) since the COVID-19 stay-at-home guidance first began last year – and this is only expected to increase over the next 12 to 18 months. Considering the average cost of an individual ergonomic claim in the U.S. is approximately $17,000, the health of the hybrid employee is posed to be a major issue for all businesses moving forward.
Providing Employees with Effective Workplace Tools
Though there are both health and cost-savings benefits associated with the appropriate remote workstation, most employers are unfortunately not doing enough to ensure their workforce is provided with the proper workstation tools. Effective tools to promote remote employee productivity and efficiency include reliable internet and intranet connectivity, a height-adjustable workstation, a second desktop display, and monitor arm for the display, and an ergonomically sound office chair. To achieve maximum value out of this investment, it’s imperative to train employees on proper use for the different components within their workstation. For example, as many as 93% of employees that have access to a height-adjustable workstation do not use them effectively – and simply providing employees with a stipend and directing them to a catalog to “pick out what they think they need” is not sufficient.
Powering Employee Productivity Through Engagement Tools
An incredibly effective way to leverage an employee’s workstation and encourage a workforce to use the workstations effectively is through a gamification strategy. Leveraging a gamification strategy is the process of taking something that already exists – such as a software application – and using gaming techniques, or gamification, to motivate consistent participation and long-term engagement. Gamification is increasingly leveraged within organizations in search of new ways to engage, teach, reward, and retain employees. Leveraging health and productivity challenges, for example, employees can work to reduce sedentary behavior and improve posture – keeping their workforce, healthy and engaged by being part of a team working towards a common goal – both in-office and at home This will lead to an overall increase in productivity.
By Mike Kind, StanData CEO.
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