Returning to a resilient workplace

How to ensure a successful return to the office by creating a resilient workplace experience.

As lockdowns slowly ease in countries around the world, people are getting ready to go back to work. Whether employees take shifts being in the office on different days, wear masks, get their temperature taken, eat alone at their desks or take the elevators one at a time, one thing is sure, the return to the office will be nothing like we have known before. While physical measures are being implemented in workplaces around the world, what about the psychological, emotional and social dimensions of employees’ well-being in such uncertain and unfamiliar times?

How do we create a resilient workplace, one that can change and adapt to what the short term and long term futures may bring?

Returning to a resilient workplace
A resilient workplace

All around the world, countries, companies and people are trying to move forward and regain a sense of normality. It is however clear that we won’t be able to go back to our old normal. Instead we are looking for a new normal. What will happen in the next few weeks and months, is essentially an experiment. Going back to the workplace is an experiment as well. We don’t really know what will work and what won’t. Furthermore, we don’t know what the ramifications of what we are doing now may be in the near future, let alone the long term future. So how can we proceed, when we don’t know what will ensure success? There is one quality that will ensure some level of success no matter what the future will bring and that is resilience. The question is: How do we create a resilient workplace, one that can change and adapt to what the short term and long term futures may bring? The answer to creating a resilient workplace starts with its people.

Well-being is three dimensional

Over the last decades, companies have realised that their business results actually hinge on their employees. They also realise that investing in their people is not only a matter of materials or physical things such as better pays or ergonomic furniture. Investing in people starts with people’s well-being. The recent rise of burnouts have made it very clear that the well-being of employees is essential for their physical health, performance and consequently the bottom line of the company. It is now also increasingly clear that employees well-being is three-dimensional: psychological, emotional and social. So in these times more than ever before, how can you as a Workplace Professional support the well-being of your employees? How can you nurture their psychological wellbeing, support their emotional wellbeing and cultivate their social wellbeing?

How can you nurture their psychological wellbeing, support their emotional wellbeing and cultivate their social wellbeing?

Returning to a resilient workplace
Returning to a resilient workplace
Returning to a resilient workplace
The four Ms

Whether you are a HR manager, a Facility Manager, a Happiness Officer or a Workplace Professional in any capacity, you are probably asking yourself: how do we ensure people can return to work safely. You also already probably know that safety is not only physical and while corona-free health is a high priority, we have to anticipate the next stages and ask ourselves: how do we ensure people can return to work safely and sustain their physical and mental health, for months and years to come, in this new reality.

As a Workplace Professional, there are four practices you can introduce in your company right away, to nurture your employees’ psychological wellbeing, support their emotional wellbeing and cultivate their social wellbeing.

1. Mindfulness
Research has shown that mindfulness can have numerous benefits, ranging from decreased stress levels to increased focus levels and happiness1, which is particularly helpful when faced with challenging circumstances or difficult situations. What can you do in your workplace: When it comes to your employees and their workplace experience, considering introducing practices of mindfulness, whether as team activities, daily routines along with the morning stand up meeting or company-wide practices. A particularly powerful focus of mindfulness practices is to focus on gratitude.

2. Movement
Physical movement is extremely important not only because of its benefit to our physical healthy but also because the state of our body affects our mental state. It is no secret that the way we stand, walk, sit and even breathe affects our mood. Studies have even shown that smiling consistently enough (even if it is a fake smile at first, meaning a pure muscle exercise) helps people overcome depression2. Movement helps our emotional and psychological well-being. What can you do in your workplace: Can you introduce a habit of ‘walking meetings’? Can you re-arrange small things around the office to stimulate more movement? Think of spreading facilities such as the coffee machine, water cooler, toilets, printers, office supplies, …etc apart from each other to stimulate more movement. While you can’t move the toilets or even the coffee machine, some things that people need to get to, can easily be moved.

3. Mastery
Continuously developing our talents and learning new skills is guaranteed to contribute to boost our mental well-being. Research has shown that learning actually makes people happier and healthier3. Researchers found that one of the things that people need to be happy is to be engaged in difficult-but-doable activities4. What can you do in your workplace: This is not about the already existing trainings available for employees. Rather, consider a more personal approach to finding what learning means to specific people and how you can make ongoing learning – of the right subjects and skills for the right people – an intrinsic part of your workplace experience.

4. Meaningful Connections
Research has proven the link between the number and quality of our relationships on our mental and physical well-being5. Proven links include lower rates of anxiety and depression, stronger immune system, better recovery from disease, and even longer life. On a group level, meaningful connections create more trusting and cooperative relationships. What can you do in your workplace: Consider how can you foster meaningful connections among your employees? What can you put in place for people to be able to truly develop deep friendships? This is more than just ensuring employees ‘get along’. A sense of belonging is a powerful intrinsic motivator and a booster of employees well-being and performance.

Need a little stress release? Looking for alternative ways to cope with the daily routine? You are not the only one having a hard time, especially during the post-covid era. Here is a scientific study on how comfort objects can work for people battling stress. Never stop looking for what’s best for your mental health and balance. 

Mindfulness, Movement, Mastery and Meaningful Connections are the four Ms you can introduce in your workplace right now, to ensure your employees not only survive this difficult period but actually thrive in it. Consider introducing those new practices incrementally and tie them to existing anchors. Avoid making them see like ‘the flavour of the month’, otherwise they won’t stick and may even backfire. Once introduced correctly, the Four Ms will do wonder for your employees’ psychological, emotional and social wellbeing and your organisation’s performance during this period. And the best part is, crisis or not, those are fantastic practices to have in place and they will go a long way in nurturing employees and ensuring the long term success of your entire company.

Do you need help translating the 4 Ms to your company’s specific situation? Are you wondering about the best way to introduce them to your employees in order to ensure adoption and long term lasting success? Send us here your question and we will get back to you with personal advice.

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