CIPD Ireland’s Mary Connaughton said employers must make a ‘concerted effort’ to embed a culture of wellbeing in the hybrid working world.
Hybrid working continues to be a priority for many employers as they seek to find a balance between utilising offices and in-person meetings with employees’ desire to work remotely.
A 2022 Remote Working in Ireland survey earlier this year found that of the 92pc of respondents who were working remotely some or all of the time, 53pc would like to work remotely all of the time going forward. Meanwhile, 42pc said they wanted to continue working remotely several times a week and 4pc said several times a month.
Research from CIPD Ireland this year also showed more than half (56pc) of employers surveyed had incorporated remote or hybrid working into strategies to attract and retain talent.
However, while hybrid working can offer the best of both worlds, it must be done right to avoid the challenges that come with it.
As part of a CIPD Ireland seminar last week focused on work wellbeing, director Mary Connaughton warned that employers must support wellbeing in this new fragmented way of working.
“While employers are growing attuned to wellbeing concerns, the boundaries are more blurred between personal and working lives and this can pose a challenge,” she said.
“Just as the workplace is still evolving, employers need to make a concerted effort to embed a broad, dynamic culture of wellbeing that suits their environment and is flexible enough to cope with change.”
Connaughton shared six tips that employers must consider to ensure their workers are supported within a hybrid working model and don’t fall into some of the pitfalls that can come with this new way of working, such as feeling disconnected or burned out.
Address needs of specific employees
Different employees will be affected in different ways and it’s important consider this when it comes to supporting them.
Think about the needs of your older employees versus your younger ones. Think about those from outside Ireland, working parents, neurodiverse employees or colleagues going through menopause.
Communicate with your employees to ensure you are aware of their individual challenges. This will make it easier to address them.
Support financial wellbeing
With the current cost-of-living crisis, employees may be more stressed about finances.
Outside of salaries, employers may be in a position to consider other benefits that may help stretch incomes further, such as travel expenses or health coverage.
Apart from monetary benefits, Connaughton said employers can also support employees’ financial wellbeing through a focus on education and financial management, pointing them in the direction of financial advice and guidance or offering seminars.
Build social connection into working days
One of the biggest challenges around hybrid working is ensuring workers don’t feel disconnected or isolated from their colleagues.
That’s why it’s essential that leaders build social connections and support into the working day rather than simply rely on business meetings as the only form of interaction.
Schedule watercooler chats for staff who are working fully remotely and make sure onsite days are maximised for social interaction.
Watch out for overworking
While remote and hybrid working may have resulted in a jump in productivity, many reports indicate that there is also an increased risk of overworking, while other reports suggest that remote workers are finding it harder to disconnect.
With this in mind, employers need to watch out for signs of burnout and overworking. Talk to employees who appear to be putting in extra hours or spending more time online than usual.
It might even be a case of ensuring employees have flexible working options if possible and re-evaluating their workload if necessary.
Make mental health a priority
Between social disconnection, loneliness and the potential for burnout, it’s vital that employers make mental health a priority and ensure employees know this.
Communicate regularly with workers to help stay alert to any mental health issues and create and foster a culture where employees can safely raise any mental health concerns they may have.
Focus on long-term retention
Finally, with ongoing talent shortages in many key skill areas, Connaughton said retention and sustainability of employees is key.
Think about how you can keep employees happy and engaged. You can also examine the skills gaps you currently have and see how you can use your current talent pool to plug those gaps while upskilling staff.
10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.