Last October, we collaborated with Plum to host a webinar for employers and HR professionals who had major concerns about the declining quality of employee health and wellness at their organization. The featured speaker is Ashish Bagrecha, an entrepreneur and author who has a deep interest in studying life and people.
he pandemic and rapid switch in work styles have taken a toll on the physical and mental well-being of employees. They now struggle to keep up with work activities as they simultaneously try to balance their personal life. As a result, organizations are now witnessing a drastic reduction in productivity levels and a decline in overall business growth.
Keeping the employees happy and geared up both physically and mentally is now a priority for employers and human resources. That is why we invited Ashish Bagrecha, an entrepreneur, best-selling author, and life coach, to tackle the complexities of this issue.
Here are the key takeaways from the event.
WFH's impact on mental, physical, and emotional health
The pandemic has brought out many employees from what seemed to have been their comfort zone. Before the outbreak, employees have maintained a balance between their physical and mental health, but adapting to the new normal has shaken this flow. Here’s a quick breakdown for better understanding:
- More than 60 employees who have been surveyed, were reported to be battling mental and physical challenges while working from home.
- 75% of these employees have discovered at least one mental health issue since they began working from home.
- 64% of employees have developed at least one new physical health issue.
These issues resulted from isolation, high consumption of junk foods, and a reduction in physical activities. While all employees suffered from the repercussions of the enforced change in lifestyle, the female employees appear to be witnessing a higher level of depression.
“If we are confined to a certain place or a certain way of living, can we survive? If we can survive, how do we survive?”
While employees are finding new ways to live with these issues, seeking help is still necessary. These issues only appear to be fixed temporarily, as people are gradually adjusting to the current situation, but they could cause greater damage sometime in the future.
Warning signs: How to recognize health issues
Before diving into the solution, we need to recognize the patterns that determine health issues. Identifying the problem is the first step to revival.
Aggravation of productivity disorder
When employees frequently experience the extreme ends of productivity: working obsessively or zero inspiration to work, the chances are that they’re having a tough time keeping up with their mental and physical well-being. They can switch from excessive working, constantly seeking updates, checking their emails, and working round the clock to avoiding tasks and communication in a matter of hours. This switch from hyper-activity to zero-activity could be associated with the challenges in adapting to a new work environment.
Employees witness difficulties in prioritization
Employees find it unusually difficult to prioritize tasks and manage their workload. They find time management confusing and constantly wonder what to do at what time. Keeping track of their work activities is more challenging when they also have to keep track of their personal activities right under the same roof, so managing their time and activities becomes hard work.
Employees gradually cultivate the habit of procrastination
As said earlier, employees who have zero inspiration to work are victims of physical and mental health challenges. So, they resort to procrastination as a coping mechanism for the tasks they have to accomplish. They keep postponing their tasks till they cross the deadline. If this happens one too many times, it is a sign that employees are struggling with their new work environment.
Employees become super forgetful
Asides from procrastinating their responsibilities, employees battling with health issues will constantly forget them too. Unlike procrastination, employees lose complete memory of the existence of a task and don’t even include it in their To-Do list.
Change in employee’s tone
There’s usually a change in communication when employees are going through tough times. You will notice a change in their tone when responding to emails, tags, and other conversations. There’s usually anger, unnecessary sarcasm, and a lack of inspiration in the tone of their messages. And on some occasions, they barely communicate or delay submissions for no reason.
Possible solutions to health problems
Making the organization a safe and comfortable space is the key to birthing healthier employees. However, efforts from both parties are required for a successful and healthier organization.
What can employers do to create a positive work environment?
1. Employ In-house Mental and Physical Health Professionals
Employers need to create a social channel where employees can be fully expressive- “rant”, and be attended to when they need help at any time of the day or night. To make this method more effective, it is important that they have a therapist, counselor, or other related specialists as the moderators of this “rant group” to foster a stronger health care system for employees.
These specialists help create a safe and non-judgemental space for employees to vent and organize health programs and health risk assessments for employee benefit. Preferably, put the message settings on “vanish mode”, so employees don’t have to feel insecure or relive their hard moments.
2. Host weekly check-ins
As an employer, you can host weekly check-ins where employees engage in games, fun conversations, and other team bonding activities as a part of the employee wellness program. These activities are strictly entertaining and void of work-related tasks.
3. Setting healthy boundaries with employees and keeping them in the know
With employees struggling to maintain a healthy work-life balance, being honest and realistic with deadlines is a great way to ease their stress. Always let employees know the level of urgency for each task by including it in every email sent. It is also okay to tell them when it is urgent, so they can prioritize appropriately. Always communicate things
4. Invest in employees’ work from home space
“Employers should invest in home workspaces. It is your office, set up in someone else’s home.”
An excellent way to make employees feel appreciated and loved is by investing in their work from home. Hold a one-on-one meeting to discuss the various set-ups that’ll spark creativity and boost their productivity levels. Employers should also prepare to fund it like they will with the office workspace.
What can employees do to create a positive work environment?
Employees can also take part in the mission to create a healthier work environment. Here are some tips that could help:
1. Setting up a routine and sticking to it
While working from home, employees can still preserve the office 9-5 work culture. However, this comes with a twist. Employees shouldn’t limit their routine to the activities that take place in the office, but extend it to their entire morning routines.
They should take a bath, dress appropriately, and sit in front of a desk. Employees are also advised to avoid working in their pajamas, especially in the bed or on a super comfortable couch. By adopting the normal workweek routine, they can feel a lot more inspired to be productive.
2. Try digital detoxification
Employees should avoid using digital devices to relax or entertain themselves when taking breaks, especially ones with screens. Instead, they are advised to read books, take a walk, or buy groceries for at least an hour. This gives them a fresh perspective as it helps in creating boundaries between work life and personal life.
How to determine when there’s a blurred line between personal and professional life
In as much as the beauty in team bonding and employee-to-employee support could be overwhelming, organizations are advised to restrict sharing personal life experiences to specialists only. While employees serving as confidants for each other may be a show of supportive company culture, it creates a blurred line between personal and professional life.
Employees end up being filled with so much empathy that may limit their freedom to assign tasks and demand submissions. This may greatly affect collaboration and productivity, as employees find it difficult to make certain work requests because of the knowledge they have of their colleague’s personal struggles.
Suggested actions that could improve employee health and wellness
1. Master the art of self-discipline
Discipline is the best solution to becoming a healthier employee. Both employees and employers should be able to stay disciplined when making positive lifestyle choices or involving themselves in these activities. Condition your mind to stay focused when relaxing, engaging in physical activity, listening to a podcast, or eating.
2. Engage in group activities
“We as humans cannot survive alone”
Create a small group with friends or colleagues where you can all inspire each other to make healthier decisions. Members of this group can also work cooperatively to develop a health plan that’ll prompt them to make healthier lifestyle choices and improve overall well-being. They can take lunch breaks, try breathing exercises, listen to music, and meditate together, at the same time. This serves as a support system for them.
3. Adopt the use of engagement apps
Employees and employers are implored to make use of engagement apps to ensure that they don’t miss out on the fun of social media and their tasks at work. Engagement apps like Sprynkl and LinkedIn serve as digital communication tools to open communication with zero toxicity. This way, organizations can maintain virtual interaction without compromising their job duties.
“I really like Sprynkl. I found it really interesting. It is a private social network where employees can share their stories.”
4. Set healthy boundaries with family
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance as a family person could get more difficult when working from home. They have their demands too and you’re responsible to meet those demands.
A safe way to keep up with work demands and family demands is by setting boundaries. Make clear to them your work hours and unavailable periods, unless of course, it’s an emergency. You also need to make up for the time you spend working by engaging them in other activities at a later time.
5. Stay away from the internet
Switch off your internet when taking breaks or resting for the night. You don’t have to respond to work emails and messages during these hours. Staying away from the internet and devices will help you relax better and prompt you to spend quality time doing the things you love with the people you love.
6. Live one day at a time
Do not be afraid to take baby steps each day. You need to acknowledge that there’s only so much you can achieve over a period and take it easy on yourself. As long as you’re adding value to yourself, your family, and the company every day, you’re on the right track.
Check out the entire webinar by watching the full event below. Feel free to share this video with your manager, colleagues, or team members to help them enhance health, wellness, and productivity altogether.