New research has revealed younger employees have found the switch to home working more challenging than older colleagues. The findings have prompted calls for employers to provide more training and tools to help staff at this difficult time. But according to James Don-Carolis, Managing Director at TrueCue, to get to the root cause, companies need to go deeper and leverage the data at their disposal in order to understand where specific struggles for staff lie.
Don-Carolis, discusses in more detail: “Staff mental wellness is a critical concern for every organisation, and it is worrying to learn younger employees are struggling working away from the office. Businesses are beginning their road to recovery, but despite the easing of lockdown and some workplaces reopening, there are many likely to remain closed for some time. Because of this it is critical organisations take active steps to ensure all staff remain connected and positively engaged when working remotely.
“Training and having access to more tools have been spoken about as possible solutions in order to provide staff with a strong support framework, but this doesn’t help to pinpoint where issues may arise. Organisations could be making better use of data to understand where specific pressure points lie, and from these insights take action.”
Don-Carolis continues, “There are a number of actionable steps organisations can take. Younger staff, for example, might be reluctant to share their true feelings on how they are coping away from the office, for fear they could be perceived as weak or ‘not up-to-the-task’. Anonymous wellbeing surveys can be used to get a better insight into employee sentiment on how staff are coping, both in their work-lives and their personal lives.
“Additionally, it has been suggested the pressure of higher demands (resulting from lost business and market challenges), combined with media reporting of redundancies and furloughing of staff, across all sectors, will naturally create anxieties for employees. Younger staff particularly, those which have not had the opportunity to build up nest eggs, could be fearful for their position and therefore, will want to work harder and longer to prove their worth. Invariably, sustaining this for a long period, particularly when there isn’t the natural visibility you’d get in the office, will take its toll.
“To spot signs of employee ‘burnout’ leadership and HR teams can leverage internal data. This can be direct, for example from surveys and pulse checks, or indirect. Electronic communications within a company, for example e-mail exchanges, chats, instant messages, file transfers, etc. creates a ‘digital exhaust’ which can give additional insight into working habits. To be clear, the intention is not to invade privacy by monitoring the content of such communications, but rather to understand the volume of them and, importantly, the elapsed time over which they are happening. Now that people are effectively living and working from the same location, it is easy for the working day to extend from morning to night, without the natural breaks that commuting provides.”
Don-Carolis concludes, “It’s encouraging to see companies not staying rigid to a one-size-fits-all approach, when it comes to mental wellness, and recognising different groups are going to have different challenges at this time.
“Remote working – despite its obvious benefits – is not suited to all, and if offices are to remain closed for some time still, it’s important proactive steps are taken to improve the support infrastructure for all staff. Being able to access and use internal data will allow organisations to identify where specific challenges lie and from this deploy the relevant resources and support needed to help staff cope when away from the office.”