Aug 13th 2021

Hybrid workforce: 5 ways to manage employee wellbeing

COVID-19 has changed work as we know it forever. As we cautiously emerge from the pandemic and look to the future, we begin to enter a new normal of a hybrid workforce. We no longer have to work from home all the time, but also no longer have to go into the office five days a week. But this shift to a hybrid workforce puts people at greater risk of experiencing mental health issues, being less engaged, and generally affecting overall employee wellbeing. 

That’s why we have pulled together some advice on how you can manage this new hybrid working and create an environment that supports and manages your employees’ wellbeing. 

Employee wellbeing with a hybrid workforce 

Place ownership on your wellbeing strategy

For clear strategies to be a success, someone must take control and responsibility. A recent report shows that 45% of HR and benefits leaders say lack of ownership is one of the three biggest barriers to improving wellbeing in their organisation. So whether it’s your HR team or you bringing in a specialist, make sure it is clear who owns your wellbeing strategy.

Here are two ways you can do this: 

  • Put an effective data collection system in place for effective and consistent wellbeing measurement to maintain a healthy hybrid culture.
  • Have organisational structures that make it clear who is accountable for new wellbeing initiatives and strategies, and be sure to reflect this in senior leadership meetings. 

Have senior leaders play a critical role

Alyx Gilham, People and Culture Partner at Hibob, says “The involvement of managers can help streamline processes and foster a positive company culture in order to drive employee engagement.”

With day-to-day responsibility for their team members’ welfare, senior leaders have a crucial role to play in identifying signs that people are struggling. You should empower them to step up and make sure they are on top of their teams. 

Here are two ways you can do this: 

  • Ensure senior leaders practice, reinforce and normalise hybrid behaviours to show they are taken seriously at the top. 
  • Create healthy hybrid feedback loops between employees and senior leaders with clear communication channels for questions to be raised or concerns to be addressed. 

Take a holistic approach to workplace wellness

It is easy with a hybrid workforce to forget that everyone has things going on both at work and at home. 81% of HR leaders recognise that it is vital to consider all aspects of employees’ lives, inside and outside work, for their emotional wellbeing. You need to make sure your employees still feel supported even if they aren’t always in the office.

Here is how you can do this: 

  • Make sure you encourage everyone to be compassionate to others and to take interest in each other’s lives. 
  • Use language that conveys your understanding of how they feel and the challenges that people are facing on a daily basis, especially with hybrid working. 
  • Ask your employees if they have everything they need to be happy and productive. 

Create a transparent and open culture 

Paying attention to your internal communication and ensuring you are totally transparent with your employees is key to fostering a strong wellbeing culture. People not only want transparency around moving to a hybrid workforce but also want to be kept up-to-date with the latest company developments. In fact, 80% of people want their employers to keep them updated about company news. 

Lukas Roth, VP of Growth at Ben, says, “We found daily touch-points via team stand-ups and weekly team meetings to be highly effective to ensure everyone is aligned and aware of what’s going on in each function.”

Here are two ways you can do this:

  • Not only set up communication through channels such as Slack, Zoom, and Notion but also encourage in-person all-hands meetings. 
  • Constantly share good news stories and your business goals and objectives with everyone so they know they are contributing and don’t feel isolated. 

Encourage people to switch off 

Will Allen-Marsh, Partner at Spill, says, “When it comes to wellbeing in a hybrid workplace, it’s easy for work communication to run over into the evenings, affecting our ability to switch off and increasing chances of stress and anxiety.”  

It’s important to encourage employees to set boundaries and give themselves enough time to rest on evenings and weekends. Just because hybrid working offers more flexible working hours, it doesn’t mean your employees should be working more hours. A recent NBER study found that the average working day increased by 48 minutes over the last year. 

Here is how you can do this: 

  • Launch a right to disconnect policy that makes it easier for people to switch off outside of work. Check out the employee wellbeing platform, Spill’s, right to disconnect policy
  • Have days where employees take time off to relax and recharge to make sure everyone is properly rested for their own personal wellbeing. 

The new hybrid workforce is a challenge for everyone. No one knows the perfect way of managing it and most companies are learning as they go along. But whilst you find your footing it is important to always bear your employees’ wellbeing in mind, appreciating that it is just as difficult for them as it is for you in finding the right way to work. But with the right mindset and dedication to your team and following the above advice as you go along, you will be giving yourself the best shot at maintaining strong employee wellbeing in your business.