Based on recent conversations, it sounds like the announcement that lockdown will soon be lifted has had an interesting (if seemingly paradoxical) side-effect.Read More
With the lockdown days ticking on and normal life seeming a distant memory, we wanted to check in with our community and offer support to parents trying to manage both their kid’s mental health as well as their own.Read More
Your team’s energy levels have a significant impact on productivity, and after 16 months of lockdowns and remote working, energy levels are at an all-time low.
Now, as summer heat rages on and your people get ready for holidays abroad, schools being closed, and time off work, you may have noticed an even greater lull in their enthusiasm and energy.
The HBR article ‘The Pandemic is Widening the Productivity Gap’ suggests that energy was the hardest-hit productivity indicator during the pandemic, having rippling effects on engagement and employee retention. Maintaining high energy levels is essential for productivity and ensuring you get the best out of your team. You need to read your team’s energy levels, listen to them, and take actionable steps to bring everyone back up to scratch.
This can have a tremendous impact on their mental health, engagement, resilience, and overall joy about their work.
Here are 5 ways you can reinvigorate your team and boost energy levels:
1. Encourage rest and recovery
Many have worked non-stop for the last 16 months, rarely taking sick days or even holidays due to remote working. Remind your staff that just because they are working from home, it doesn’t mean that they cannot take time off or be ill. Many are feeling a constant pressure to work, and it has left many of us beyond burnt out.
2. Be compassionate
Everyone has had a challenging year, and grief surrounds so many things. Grieving over lost loved ones, lost special memories and occasions, or even just the lives we had before the pandemic. As a leader, you are surely grieving personally as well. Be sure that you are empathetic, compassionate and understanding of how your team feels and provide a safe space for them to express their feelings. It’s vital that everyone feels comfortable saying when they just aren’t coping well. Communication is crucial, and how you communicate as a leader can have a considerable impact on employee energy levels.
3. Reward and encourage employees
According to The Achiever Workforce Institute and a recent study, 35% of employees said that more significant appreciation of their work would help them feel more supported during COVID-19. This directly impacts engagement and, subsequently, productivity. We know times are tough for many businesses but ensure that you are letting your employees know that they are valued and their contributions matter.
4. Provide resources and opportunities for staff to take care of their physical wellbeing
Your physical wellbeing directly impacts energy levels. So providing resources and time to allow your team to take care of their wellbeing can help prevent burnout and keep them motivated. Giving them space and time in their otherwise hectic lives to restore work-life balance and take care of themselves. Physical wellbeing has a direct impact on mental well-being, and a mentally resilient workforce is essential for productivity,
5. Invest more in people
Time is finite, energy is not, having your staff work long, gruelling hours does not benefit your company or your team. On the contrary, it leads to disengaged and burnt-out employees, as they invest considerable quantities of time instead of effectively and efficiently directing that time. By investing in upskilling, training, and supporting your team, you ensure that they are putting in quality time to get tasks done.
We are over halfway through the year, which means we have had a lot of our key D&I and Awareness days, and also time to reflect on the social movements that took place last summer.
From International Women’s Day to Pride, at PUSH we’ve been thinking about how we can build on the messages and activism of the past year and find ways to implement positive, lasting change. Thanks to Covid-19, the working landscape has been blown wide open, leaving an open chasm and abundant opportunity for remodelling the working world of the future – a world where no one is left behind.
True inclusivity is about so much more than diversity; it is about a sense of belonging, and ensuring all of your colleagues – no matter their gender, race or sexual orientation – feel that they can be their most authentic selves at work. Nurturing uniqueness and individuality among your staff not only creates a positive impact on mental health and your office culture, but will also promote company growth.
“research shows that unlocking women’s economic potential in the workplace over the coming years could add a staggering $2.1 trillion in GDP by 2025”
The stats on the potential in truly embracing and fostering inclusivity speak for themselves; in the US, research has found that 40% of GDP growth in the national economy between 1960 and 2010 can be attributed to women and people of colour being better represented in the labour force. And research shows that unlocking women’s economic potential in the workplace over the coming years could add a staggering $2.1 trillion in GDP by 2025.
So how, as leaders, how do we funnel the essence of this year’s activism into our company culture in a practical and permanent way? The first is to open up the line of conversation with your staff and keep it open. Look critically at your organisation and identify what changes can be made and build these into a long-term actionable plan that you can sustain for years to come. Don’t let your desire for diversity look like a gimmick; your team needs to feel equally represented and supported each and every day.
Also ensure that you invest in your talent. Upskilling staff will not only lead to increased confidence and an expansion of skillsets across the board, but also a sense that every member of the team is valued. Launched last month, the new PUSH App helps companies realise their potential in this area, helping people to connect and feel a sense of belonging, even if current working models mean they are physically apart.
And on that subject, restructuring your company with inclusivity in mind will have a lot to do with how you tackle the topic of hybrid working. Many women have experienced burnout as they try to juggle working from home and the subsequent sense of needing to be constantly ‘on’ with the pressures of family life. For this reason the implementation of boundaries in your new working model is really important. Again include staff in these conversations to ensure everyone is comfortable with what is being laid out.
Talking to staff has to lie at the core of your mission for a more inclusive workplace. The sad fact is that Covid has had a disproportionate impact on BAME communities – people from black and Asian ethnic groups were twice as likely to die from the virus compared to white people – meaning that members of these communities are more likely to be suffering from grief. Research also shows that 74% of LGBTQ+ people say that stress from the pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health, compared to 49% of those who are not LGBTQ+. Now, more than ever, it is important that these groups feel listened to and supported. Ensure there are systems in place so people have access to a safe space where they can share their feelings and seek help if they need it.
Inclusivity has to be about working with people, not against them, and if the past year has taught us anything, it is that we are stronger together.
In a world where people across the globe can be connected within seconds, and time zones and distance have long ceased to be barriers to a productive work life, it seems crazy that it’s taken a pandemic to finally give employees the agency to dictate where and when they can work. For a long time, like driverless cars and Amazon drone deliveries, flexible working always seemed a futuristic prospect that would be tried and tested by the Silicon Valley heavyweights before ever reaching us. Finally, almost overnight, people have had more control over their working day than ever before, and it’s an autonomy that many have relished. In fact, a recent report published by PUSH found that 30% of us are anxious about going back into the office full time.
Now, as we creep back to normality, many leaders understandably want to see staff back in the office – but how to do this while maintaining a sense of employee independence? A hybrid model seems the obvious solution, but how, as a leader, do you approach this? Allowing people to dictate the days they come in, or ordering that staff be in on certain days and not on others. How much say – and indeed sway – should workers have in the workplace revolution? And what does flexible working actually look like – is it really the location that’s important?
Your future workplace has to take into account the different personalities and circumstances of your people. Maximum flexibility enables employees to work in a way that is convenient and comfortable for them; young employees in small apartments and empty nesters working in cities, for example, may well be craving the sociable, dependable environs of the office, whereas staff with children in the suburbs would happily spend their entire week working from home. Your people are unique; it is unlikely that a one-size-fits-all approach will work for everyone; therefore a focus on choice seems a natural solution. Not to mention dictating hours spent in the office is not the definition of flexible working.
One of the downsides to this is the risk it poses to office diversity: research suggests that among graduates with young children, women want to work from home full-time almost 50% more than men. There is also the possibility of creating divisions within the workforce: a situation where you have an office group pitched against those working from home isn’t helpful for anyone. Finally, there are the widely acknowledged benefits to working in the same space, among them the direct correlation between innovation and population density, and the fact that working with people can be a cure for social isolation. Ultimately, life and business are better when people come together.
So, how can we work with these varied viewpoints to find the sweet spot for your business? It’s all about creating a framework that is truly flexible. Ask yourself the right questions: How do we make our people feel safe, engaged, motivated; how do we ensure they have the energy and resilience to keep going? If you’re limiting the conversation to ‘is it 2 or 3 days in the office?’, then you’re heading down the wrong track. Flexible working is not about where you work or when you work but how you work. After all, the success of a business depends on the people within it, and it is not where they park their laptop on a daily basis but how they feel about the work in hand that really matters.
And when you see it like that, then the workplace becomes just another tool, much like email or Slack, one that exists to enable employees to work better – to facilitate communication and nurture creativity and innovation. Because shouldn’t a workplace be able to exist in any location, while still maximising collaboration and socialisation?
It may take some time to create the model that works for you; embrace this as an opportunity to experiment, and resist making final decisions. Try a number of different iterations and setups, encouraging feedback and collaboration from your people – this way you can establish what works for your business and your staff.
Upskilling is also crucial as we enter this new era, both for leaders and employees. Much more is being asked of our leaders in a post-Covid world – people are looking to them to create new working scenarios that foster innovative, productive and happy employees. However, we know that many leaders are shying away from this challenge, simply because they don’t feel they have the expertise or resources to execute it successfully. Put simply, they know innovation is critical, but they don’t know how to do it. Upskilling staff is also crucial to this process; just as people can be guided on how to best use Slack, email or Zoom, so too can they benefit from an understanding of how best to use flexible working to their and the businesses’ advantage.
In spite of the challenges and big decisions that lie ahead, this has the potential to be a period of real growth for businesses. Listen to the wants and needs of your people and reconcile them with what your company needs in order to prosper. In doing this you can build a system that is truly flexible: a workplace that works for everyone.
Kirsty Hulse, Coach at PUSH, a leading wellbeing and performance company, shares her top tips on How to Feel F*ckin Awesome Even in Lockdown
So how do we keep feeling our best and staying on top of our game…even in a lockdown? In a time when keeping a happy work-life balance is increasingly challenging, the value of checking in with your mental health on a day-to-day basis has never been more significant. Kirsty Hulse shares her three practical techniques to stay motivated throughout the pandemic.
In order to let go of something, we first have to hold it. In order to start feeling awesome, it is important to first acknowledge and recognise our emotions. We more often than not, try to force and will ourselves to feel better, which is an incredibly admirable pursuit, but there is a more sustainable, more kind, and more compassionate approach.
It’s fundamental to tend to our mental health frequently and consistently. If the outcome we want is to feel happier, better, and feel more capable, I believe that there are specific activities that can facilitate such a desired outcome.
Small Acts of Self-Care
Create a menu of small doable actions that will energise and uplift you when your mental health is suffering. In order to avoid the ‘primal panic state’ natural to human beings when feeling anxious and overwhelmed, take an active approach of creating a personalised list of actions to turn to and complete: singing to a favourite song, taking deep breaths of fresh air from out of your window, calling a close friend, watching a small comedy clip, going for a walk outside, having a quick hug, paying someone a compliment, taking a hot bath, or practicing some yoga positions.
The Necessity of Praise
The second practical tool to help stay motivated throughout the lockdown is to keep up with positive reinforcement and self-praise. It doesn’t have to be huge, it can be as tiny as finishing a task and taking a moment to think about the good job you’ve done or it can simply be taking a moment to dance. What gets celebrated gets repeated!
There is great value in rewarding our achievements, however, be mindful to allow for inconsistency. The moment that we allow some inconsistency and soften the edges of needing to be perfect all the time, the more likely we are to achieve our personal successes.
The Impact of Language
The language we use is so important. It has an impact on how we feel, our emotions, and the way we move throughout the day. There is a vivid connection between our thoughts, feelings, actions, and results. It’s natural for us as human beings, genetically, to focus on the negatives and always calculate risks to certain scenarios, however, we can train ourselves to alter our language and, in turn, construct more positive thoughts.
Take this one step further by writing down positive thoughts using constructive language. Firstly, start the day off right by thinking optimistic thoughts about the day ahead: ‘Today is going to be a good day’; ‘I’m going to have a very rich and varied day’; ‘I am going to learn more today than I knew yesterday’; ‘I can handle anything today brings’. This can be further reinforced by writing down and reflecting on three things that have gone well in your day. Take this as your reminder to dismiss those detrimental thoughts, which will hinder success, and replace them with beneficial ones that will serve you.