Returning to the Office After Major Disruption
In this episode of Engaging Internal Comms, The Big Picture People’s Craig Smith talks to Leanne Spencer, who is co-founder of Bodyshot Performance – an award-winning health and wellbeing company that uses technology and science-based solutions to create happy, healthy and resilient teams for organisations including Britvic and Zurich.
Leanne’s expertise is in health, fitness and wellbeing, especially focusing on sleep, mental health, energy resilience, fitness, immune health and the challenges of remote working. As well as all this, Leanne is also a Bear Grylls Survivor Coach.
The Importance of Fitness and Wellbeing Within an Organisation
The wellbeing of an employee has only recently come into the headlines in line with mental health awareness. But it is becoming evermore transparent to organisations how important it is to ensure the physical and mental wellbeing of their staff both in the office and when working remotely. It’s being discovered that this not only improves the individual’s performance, but the organisation’s too.
Leanne points out the six signals her company look at as root reactors to an individual’s wellbeing:
- Mental health
- Body composition
- Digestive health
In the midst of what has been a distressing year for both individuals and businesses, it’s imperative that all these areas of an individual’s life are sought to be improved. The results of doing so are indisputable. As Leanne quotes Sir Liam Donaldson, “The potential benefits of physical activity to health are huge. If a medication existed which had a similar effect, it would be regarded as a ‘wonder drug’ or ‘miracle cure’.”
When employees are healthy, so too are their organisations.
What Is ‘Scar Tissue’ Following a Major Disruption Within an Organisation?
Organisations need to be aware of the ‘scar tissue’ that employees may be carrying with them returning to the office following the pandemic. Scar tissue can vary from one individual to another:
- Some may be leaving behind spouses, ageing relatives, or children who currently need the employee.
- Some may have concerns over using public transport. The increased contact poses a huge risk to themselves or vulnerable family members. They become the weakest link within the family and themselves.
- Some may have survivor’s guilt, or imposter syndrome, as they return to the office and their colleagues have been made redundant. The fear that this could happen to them creates added pressure.
- Some people may not want to return to the office as they have preferred working from home and found themselves more productive and simply happier in their role. Perhaps there are colleagues they’d rather not work with in close contact again.
- With some organisations offering a choice to employees to return to work or stay at home, some may feel pressured by what other colleagues are doing – or at a disadvantage because of their personal situation.
These are just a few of the many examples of scar tissue an employee could have. But they’re not always visible. It is the organisation’s duty to help its employees reveal any concerns and feelings they have.
Leading with Wellbeing
It is important for organisations to react to the impact this global trauma has had on its employees. Staff retention will plummet when an organisation is seen to put profits before people, and while this is also a troubling time financially for businesses, they must put the wellbeing of their people first. The negative reaction of not doing so will be an advantage to a company’s competitors.
So how can they do this? Leanne starts by explaining, “I think the most highly-prized commodity is going to be emotional intelligence. We’re also going to have to get engaged on how people are feeling and what they’re thinking remotely. All that real-time feedback we used to get isn’t quite there with Zoom.”
Leanne believes that organisations should be:
- Leading with wellbeing. They must be talking to their employees and discovering what scar tissue is to them and how deep it goes.
- Making decisions with wellbeing at the forefront. These decisions must be supported at CEO and board level, and the C-suite entirely.
- Maintaining new habits. The pandemic has brought some positivity; there is now a great opportunity from a micro and macro level to redefine how work is done, and how employees want their lives to look. Organisations must ensure the best of these new habits and processes are maintained and reviewed frequently.
Where previously people were discussing salary packages, bonuses and company cars, today’s employee wants flexibility and wellbeing. Leanne emphasises the importance of organisations looking how to prevent wellbeing issues before they happen. While we’re used to seeing occupational health and health insurances strengthening employee benefits, we should be moving forward towards a working environment that instead provides good internal communication, workshops, resources, and managers who hold buckets of emotional intelligence to identify potential issues that must be addressed. Preventative measures as opposed to cures.
Leanne concludes with a powerful statement: “Ask the questions. Get people in small groups and ask them how they’re feeling. Do not be afraid of matching your intention with investment. It is short-sighted now not to act on this stuff.”
With anxiety and mental health conditions worsening because of the pandemic, organisations need to step up, get talking, and look after their people for business and lives to thrive.
“Taking the temperature of the organisation is key, and then ensuring that there is budget to go in and be very proactive about handling that. Just demonstrating sometimes that you’re aware that they may be feeling this way, can be huge.”
Leanne’s LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/leannespencer1975/?originalSubdomain=uk
Leanne’s recovery report: https://www.bodyshotperformance.com/resource/crisis-recovery-report/