The Workplace and the New Normal – There are no experts!
So it seems, as described in my last article the Future of Work. The new normal when it comes to the working world, will be a hybrid one. Employers are now becoming more comfortable with the hybrid working system and are coming to terms with the benefits of it.
Not to mention that if something like the pandemic was to happen again, we will be safe to carry on working, keep our jobs and keep the economy afloat. Hybrid working patterns can be considered a safety net and a risk management framework for organisations for a more secure and sustainable future!
Now we are in this great new situation where we can work from home and the office. It offers the balance that meets in the middle for all employees. Employees who need a bit of both for their working lives, have found their “happy place”. This seems suit the vast majority.
Now in my last article the Future of Work which you can read herehttps://www.mentalhealthandlife.org/2021/07/29/future-of-work/
I went into all the process that an organisation should be consider in the new normal
It looked at things like:
· The Next Generation – New Thinking and Perspectives
· Blended Working, Blended Hours and the Gender Divide
· Work Life Balance and the Gender Issue
· Blended Wellbeing, EAP’s and Health and Safety for Remote Working
· The Problem With Employee Assistance Programs
· Departmental Localisation
· The Appreciating Value of an Employee
· Wellbeing in Interviews and Appraisals
All of these things need to be fully considered by employers as we move into this new normal. If they are ignored, employers may find themselves in a worse situation in the years to come when it comes to employee performance, wellbeing and productivity.
All of which are inextricably linked!
It is important that employees stop convincing themselves that the changes that need to be had post pandemic, when it comes to wellbeing at work are too big or top brass will never allow it. Here are some of the things I have heard when I ask organisations why these changes are not persistently worked on:
· I don’t want to be a trouble maker
· I will ignore this, it’s above my pay grade
· There is too much hierarchy and red tape for such a change to occur
· They don’t listen anyway, it goes up and vanishes
· I am not their manager, our manager listens and does nothing
· My manager would not care
· The company is too big to consider such a change
· Decisions are made abroad
· No one really cares
I could go on, and this list is certainly not exhaustive. I am sure this list rings some bells at your work place too!
This is something I hear all the time during my training with organisations on mental health first aid courses. Even though everyone agrees, changes would make things so much better for all stakeholders in that organisation.
This is not only ironic and bizarre but also baffling to a point, this is reality in a lot of organisations small to large at the moment.
This type of thinking in people management has minimised productivity and performance. Companies who saw themselves as doing well pre pandemic, probably don’t realise they could have done much better if this mindset was changed.
This is not trying to fix something that is not broken.
This is understanding that somethings are definitely broken and proactively seeking a way to fix it.
When you consider that 57% of all days taken off pre pandemic were due to mental health issues related to stress, anxiety, and workload, this should raise eyebrows. Especially if you’re a supervisor, manager, CEO, shareholder or business owner.
Now can we really put a cost on individual presenteeism?
Presenteeism is when someone is physically present for work but are not truly there. I think each and every one of us have been guilty of presenteeism at as some point in our professional lives.
For some it may come and go, but for some, presenteeism can last months or even years. The true cost of that cannot truly be calculated for that individual employer or employee!
So having a conversation about mental health and wellbeing at work, how it can be incorporated into people management practices is essential in this new normal
No one is coming out of the pandemic and lockdown in a better mood, whether they know it or not!
Whether we realised it or not, the past 18 months has taken a huge toll on our mental health continuum. As we get back into work, its vital organisations are well aware of that fact!
Staying agile in all aspects, learning and unlearning is the basics of business and people management practices.
Change is good, change is the new normal and we need to fully embrace that fact. So now we are entering the new normal, we have been presented with an opportunity and platform like never before!
That opportunity is to become experts in our own management!
The opportunity is to develop new HR, management and wellbeing strategies that actually work for everyone within an organisation. A two way street, that is mutually and truly beneficial to both the employer and the employee.
These new strategies and framework’s developed for the new normal, they must be shrouded in a cloak of mental health and wellbeing. Employers will need to understand that only their employees can guide an employer on its development.
That is why I say there are no experts in the new normal, as its all too new. The nearest thing to an expert consultant in the new normal are actually, employees.
So maybe, it’s time to really start talking to them!?
Talking to and getting to know your employees both on personal and professional level is the future of people management. This is essential for employers as flourishing profits and flourishing productivity can only be had via flourishing employees!
Employees will always be, the best consultant an employer can have!
Employers must take this opportunity like bull by the horns if they are to take a step in the right direction in the UK, when it comes to people management in the new normal .
The new challenges we face in people management are brand new, we are all learning on the job!
It is a great time for great change and the ability to influence it!
In this new normal, every organisation will have to work out what is best for them, there is no generic solution to this. What cannot happen is to resort back to the age old HR and wellbeing frameworks pre pandemic, that never worked in the first place.
It would be insanity to conclude what didn’t work pre pandemic, would somehow and miraculously, work post pandemic!
The aim going forward for employers who are serious about getting the best from their employees, whilst being the best for their employees, is a plan of action. A plan of action that can reduce the 57% of day’s being taken off for mental health issues by half, over the next 2yrs!
Ambitious you may think, I believe it to be conservative!
In order to do that, employers will need to listen to their employees, not just about what is happening at work, but what is happening in their personal lives too. This is because both have an impact on a person’s mental health continuum, not to mention that work now is firmly imbedded within an employees home.
Professional/Onsite only work based management practices has had its day, throw them in the bin, it’s time to build new ones!
People management practices in the new normal will need to be a hybrid of both professional and personal factors. Ironically this should have always been the case, as we do not hang our mental health up with our jackets and get on with work, then pick it back up on the way out!
Traditionally, I guess that was what a “professional” was supposed to do?
I say that is not a professional, but a ticking time bomb of mental ill health. I speak from lived experience when I say that. We take our mental health everywhere with us, it has an impact on everything we do in all aspects of our lives.
Good employers will understand that fact!
The new normal has given us the opportunity to understand this fact and provide an immense opportunity to get things right finally.
The question then remains, how do we do that?
Employers need to be mindful that they first check in on their employees own mental health and wellbeing, before asking for feedback on how they can improve the workplace!
You would ask a starving person on tips to improve a recipe would you?
The best approach for an employer is to get their staff trained in mental health first aid, first and foremost. The traditional perception of first aid is that it is training you do for others, not for yourself. This is true when it comes to traditional first aid training but not for mental health first aid.
Mental health first aid training first and foremost applies to yourself. It’s the same as an oxygen mask on a plane, you have to put it on yourself first before you can help others!
This training is important as the average person does not fully understand how to deal with themselves when it comes to mental health and wellbeing, let alone others. What I have found delivering MHFA training is that what people think they know about their mental health and wellbeing and how it all works, is either incorrect or insufficient
This is why the incorporation of mental health first aid courses are absolutely essential within people management practices in the new normal. Once people understand how their mental health works and how to look after it. How to look out for signs of mental ill health in themselves and others.
It brings a long overdue human aspect into HR and people management frameworks and strategies. This is what has been lacking for generations in HR and people management practices!
The training will bring understanding of oneself, but also the understanding that everyone else above and below them in a hierarchy at work, are also humans who are going through troubles and strife’s themselves.
This naturally appeals to the goodness we have within each and every one of us. Which helps us to deal with each other in a more gentle way, both at work and everywhere else.
Therefore I am a strong believer that the future of the management of people, is to manage people as if they are your friends and not just as colleagues. This new management style will take into consideration all aspects of their lives, both professional and personal!
How else can you truly manage an individual to be the best they can be?
Organisations, HR departments will have to put in this work!
There is no doubt about that in the new normal, not if things like performance, culture, growth, profitability, retaining talent, corporate social responsibility and productivity are important.
So what is the best way to start this conversation amongst staff?
The answer is a very simple, an award winning strategy called Department localisation.
A strategy I developed and applied to my own organisation as a CEO that led to me being awarded the Investors in People Manger of the Year Award 2018. Thus being named a global leader in HR and People Management Practices.
The core of Departmental localisation is based around talking to staff, department by department, asking some initial basic questions. The answers to these questions produces some of the most valuable data an organisation can have for better people management. The answers also produces further questions to infinitely produce more data
The data produced is specific to the people in that department, it does away with generic/blanket practices that have never really worked, when it comes to mental health and wellbeing at work
Since I became a mental health first aid instructor I have realised that departmental localisation works even better when combined with mental health first aid training. I have combined this learning into my NUCO Supervising First Aid For Mental Health Level 3 course and organisations have seen immense benefits.
You can see my recommendations on LinkedIn on the results organisations have had with this training.
If your organisation, HR department or team feels a little stuck, when it comes to what needs to be done moving forward in the new normal and people management.
Get in touch or book my Supervising First Aid For mental health Level 3 course.
I will guide you on what needs to be done to get the best out of your people and to be a great employer!
I look forward to making you your own expert in the new normal, so let’s start conversation!