Only 12% of companies, according to a Deloitte survey, were ready, in 2020, to address employee well-being over the following 12-18 months.
Out of 80% of companies that had agreed that their employees’ well-being was decisive for their success.
Now, let’s assume that you’re not of that 12%. That you’ve already taken key steps to prioritize and constantly improve your staff’s well-being.
The difference is that now, as you’re facing the challenge of managing a hybrid workforce, you need to rethink your well-being strategy. Your new work model — a hybrid work from home one — calls for new measures to ensure your remote workers’ well-being.
And here’s what you’ll want to consider when designing your new well-being strategy to make sure it’ll support a mentally healthy hybrid workplace.
What Is Workplace Well-Being?
Workplace well-being refers to day-to-day responsibilities. To how employees feel about their work, their stress levels, expectations, relationships, and the work environment itself.
It covers all the aspects of working life. It’s how people feel at work.
So, your approach to employee well-being, as you’re managing a hybrid workforce, should be a holistic one, as well.
One that meets all the 5 layers in the hierarchy of employee needs:
Psychological well-being: getting their salaries on time and working in a clean environment
Physical safety and psychological safety at work: feeling safe to be themselves
Social well-being: feeling heard, recognized for their contributions, having a sense of belonging
Esteem: being appreciated
- Self-actualization: having a sense of purpose, feeling professionally fulfilled and aligned with the company’s mission
Communication Is Key for Remote Employee Well-Being
For how else, if not through honest and transparent communication, could you see the signs:
- lack of focus
- lack of motivation
- change in mood
- bad interactions with coworkers?
Especially when (at least) half of your employees are working remotely at a given time.
Here are 4 simple, practical steps you can take today to ensure your hybrid workforce has good mental health. And that those who need support get access to it right away.
Support Your Employees and Be Understanding
Just think about it: your employees have already struggled to adapt to your hybrid model.
And some of them maybe are still striving to cope with certain challenges specific to this new work model. To align their and their partners’ schedules to fit in responsibilities like looking after their children. To set up their functional home offices and adapt to the context of… noisy neighbors, etc.
If you want to support their well-being at work, the first step to take is to show some genuine empathy towards their specific challenges as remote workers.
And, as you’re there, in their shoes, ask yourself questions about their current situations and their ideal ones. Then talk to them and try to identify, together, their needs.
The ones you should meet so they can be happy and productive at work:
- Maybe they need more training to cope with certain tasks specific to their roles.
- Maybe they need to change their work hours to squeeze other non-work commitments into their schedules.
As you practice this different leadership style, be mindful of the language you use. Of the way you talk about team “X” and team “Y”, based in different locations so that people don’t feel like you’re putting them in some type of hierarchy.
So that they don’t feel… inferior.
You’ll want to show empathy, not sympathy. To listen to them and show them you understand the challenges they’re facing.
Not that you’re feeling sympathy for them because of those challenges.
Show Your People That You Trust Them
A trusted hybrid workforce will feel more valued. They’ll feel they have a sense of purpose at work. And they’ll be more engaged and productive.
Invest with trust both your remote workers and those working onsite if you want to support their mental health.
Facilitate Open and Honest Communications
Put clarity at the center of all your efforts as you’re (re)creating your well-being strategy.
And start by making sure that everyone in your organization understands what you mean by hybrid working.
This calls for 1:1s with your staff. Where you agree with them on which of their tasks they will perform in the physical workplace and which of them they’ll carry out at home.
Make sure you set clear expectations on the no. of days they should work in the office, as well, and that you let them know exactly what type of IT equipment you’ll provide them to do their work remotely.
Besides clarity, building honest communication — the type that encourages human connection — is what supports remote employee well-being.
And constantly checking up on them to monitor the progress of their tasks is not the type of two-way communication that we're referring to.
Instead, keep them up to date with the new implementations happening across your organization. With the positive things happening inside their own teams.
Communicate the best practices they should adopt. As these would help them become more efficient and effective while doing their work.
And also, let them know they’re valued.
In short, keep them in the loop by communicating to them and with them regularly. It’ll help you lessen remote workers’ anxiety and keep them from feeling isolated.
Listen to Workers
Ultimately, if you want to design a truly people-centric employee well-being program for your hybrid workforce… Listening to people is critical.
For you might just discover that one of the key results of the 2021 Employee Experience Imperative Report — only 51% of the employees considered their organization has taken all the key practical steps to help them manage the stress linked to remote working — applies to you, too.
And before you start listening and taking notes on the wellness challenges of remote workers in your organization, you should accept the fact that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing a hybrid workforce.
Once you’ve accepted this reality, you can go on and listen closely to what they have to say about reducing screen time, their need for flexible hours, or prioritizing breaks. To their ideas of activities that’d help them connect with their co-workers.
Like weekly virtual coffees with their team members, for instance. The type of activity that some might find it critical to support their own well-being at work.
While others might think it’s not a priority worth squeezing into their after-work schedules.
Everyone has different needs, so the perks you offer your staff to support their well-being should differ, too.
When managing a hybrid workforce, making remote workers feel included is both your main goal and your major challenge as you’re striving to ensure their well-being.
So, let’s say you’ve already managed to build a feeling of belonging through open communication and active listening. Now, how do you build a feeling of… togetherness, too?
One that helps teams or team members working remotely feel that their opinions and feelings are equally valued?
You do it by keeping your teams connected. Creating engaging opportunities. Creating those contexts where remote workers, too, get to share their own ideas with their team members.
Think “contexts” like formal work events, that bring together employees working from the office with those working remotely. Or contexts like informal opportunities for them to interact and share some social time.
You get the idea: connectivity is essential for keeping your hybrid workforce engaged. But you need to carefully design, adjust, and redesign these connectivity opportunities so that everyone can participate.
So they don’t risk feeling “out of sight, out of mind”.
Shaping Company Culture Around Remote Work
Employee well-being is at the heart of the overall employee experience. And employee experience is closely related to company culture.
This means that in the context of rethinking your whole employee well-being, to suit the needs of a hybrid workforce, you also need to reshape your company culture, too. Around remote work this time.
And constant communication won’t be enough.
As a matter of fact, too much communication can risk causing the opposite: affecting the remote employee's well-being.
With company updates, various communications related to the best procedures to adopt, new workflows, new vision, well-being surveys to fill in, new… perks, people might start to feel overwhelmed.
Stressed out as they’re striving to absorb all that information, coming to them from so many channels.
Instead, you should follow the example of those HR leaders who’ve already turned AI into their main ally. And to start making the most of it and collect all the data you need about your remote workers’ unique needs, performances, and specific challenges without all the extra noise.
Find out how you can help them improve their remote work’s efficiency, and how you can spark innovation in a remote work context.
With that data at hand, you’ll want to start reshaping your company culture so that it reflects those new priorities, values, and needs that remote workers have.
Rethinking Employee Well-Being in the Hybrid Remote Working Age
Now, let’s get practical!
Let’s talk about practical steps you can take to make sure the employee well-being strategy that you’re redesigning — to suit your hybrid workforce’s specific needs — will be a success.
Encourage a Positive Work-Life Balance
Start by setting a clear line between work and non-work hours.
Then, continue with common-sense measures to support this clear delimitation between their workspace and home space. Between their work life and personal life.
For instance, you could encourage your teams to:
- switch off their laptops and everything work-related after work hours
- take their full annual leaves
- do not send each other work mail after a certain hour
And make sure to communicate these best practices and new implementations to those workers performing from co-located workspaces, too.
Increase Your Focus on Well-Being Programs
With only 42% of employees rating their mental health as positive, you should consider focusing more of your resources on tailoring well-being programs across your organization.
Especially now, when you and your staff are still struggling to cope with the challenges of a hybrid workplace.
Be on a constant lookout to identify the best strategies for improving and supporting your remote employee well being and their mental health.
- personal development opportunities
- to advocating for mindfulness practices across your organization
- to scheduling weekly catch-ups
- to helping them better prioritize their tasks and handle their workloads
… the list of potential initiatives here is endless. And specific to your own hybrid workforce.
Strike the Right Balance in the Hybrid Model
And “balance” here doesn’t mean 50% of your staff working from the office and 50% of them working from home.
We’re talking about your own balance. That percentage of your workforce which, if they're working remotely, wouldn’t affect your client engagement. Or impact team culture and mental health among your workers. Whether that percentage is 20% or… 70%.
You need to find your own “sweet spot”.
And for that, you’ll need to first accept that not all your employees will want to work onsite anymore. And not all of them will want to work from home.
Accepting this is the first step. Next, you’ll want to listen to both sides’ reasons and concerns and be understanding of their specific life situations.
In short, to make supporting their mental health a priority.
Adjusting Employee Benefits to the New Reality
Employee benefits and employee well-being work hand in hand.
But what do you do when your employee benefits are designed around office work? And you’re now managing a hybrid workforce.
You start rethinking pay and benefits in a hybrid workplace.
And the first step to take is to initiate conversations with your staff, listen to them and identify their new priorities. All while identifying and overcoming your own proximity bias, too.
Be a Role Model
Train leaders to manage the new work arrangements
45% of HR leaders report lack of ownership as the key blocker for not improving employee well-being in their organization.
And working in silos, lack of transparency and inconsistent practices and processes stem precisely from this lack of ownership
This reflects in remote workers’ poor mental health. And their low level of engagement leads to decreased productivity.
The solution? Train your HR managers and benefits leaders to better handle the new hybrid work arrangements in your company:
- Set a clear strategy they can align all their initiatives to
- Grant them control and responsibility for their measures to improve well-being in the workplace
Consider Upskilling Your Line Managers
How well equipped are your line managers to identify signs of poor mental health that your staff’s struggling with?
It’s perfectly normal if they’re not that well prepared. Especially if you haven’t yet offered them any type of mental health training.
Managing people face-to-face is different from managing a hybrid team. Once you’re aware of this fact, you’ll want to consider upskilling your line managers.
Encourage them to have regular ckeck-ins with people in their teams and “build a culture of connection”. This means that their regular 1:1s shouldn’t be just points to check off their To-Do lists.
But really check-ins. Where they show real interest in their team members’ mental state. They ask them about how they’re doing working remotely and have real conversations. Built around employees’ and their managers' common interests and specific challenges.
Just curious: which of these recommendations are you already turning into action right now, as you’re reimagining your employee well-being to fit your new hybrid work environment?
And which of them do you plan to add to your list?
One thing’s for sure: rethinking your well-being strategy and turning it into a success won’t be an easy process. It might need further adjustments and improvements.
But by being aware of the importance of your hybrid workforce’s well-being and putting your company on the right track you’ve already got a few key steps closer to your goal.