Research has shown that people will spend one-third of their adult life at work. There are many challenges that the workplace and staff face, from productivity, mental health, wellbeing and satisfaction. The working environment is not a conflict-free zone, and this brings a whole range of issues that can affect the workforce.
While we’re remote working more, i.e. part of the week or full time, workers are not necessarily happier. Remote working comes with its own set of challenges for the business and staff. However, before we delve into remote working, let’s start reviewing the workforce’s challenges by looking at automation.
Automation is not necessarily a new threat – companies have always looked for ways to cut costs and make processes as simple as possible. However, as technology advances and we find more and more ways to make lives and jobs easier, there presents itself the possibility that automation will remove some roles.
In 2018, 37% of the UK’s workforce revealed that they were worried that automation will change their jobs for the worse – with 23% of workers saying they feel worried that their current job may not be needed.
However, it has also been suggested that automation could help create more jobs than it will make redundant.
There are a whole host of benefits to allowing employees to work from home. Not only is commuting stressful and unpleasant (especially during the summer season), with the ever-rising prices of trains, some employees may feel like they’re losing out on their hard-earned money. With this in mind, offering remote working can boost productivity, allowing them to use the time that would have been spent commuting on more important work.
45% of Brits have said that their daily commute has a negative effect on their health. According to the NHS, more than 24 million people in the UK commute to work regularly (an average journey being 56 minutes). Stress levels, blood pressure and choice of healthy food, exercise and sleep are negative impacts of a long commute.
However, working from home might not be for everyone and may not totally remove stress, but create different types of stress.
As virtual contracts become increasingly popular among the working world, those taking these contracts should be armed with the tools needed to manage the possible distractions and confusions from working in the same building where they relax, sleep, and spend time with their family.
Resolving employee conflicts remotely is demanding. When your staff are in the workplace, and it becomes evident that a couple of your employees are not getting on, you can take immediate action. A spontaneous decision to mediate a meeting in a meeting room or off-site at the local cafe can be all that’s required to ensure the workers work through their differences.
In-person meetings use body language cues to interpret and read signals that confirm how the meeting is progressing and on the right path to reconciliation.
Video conferencing meetings can resolve worker disagreements, but without the visual cues of body language, the conflict may take longer to detect and resolve. This also brings us to social wellbeing and how to manage it in the post-pandemic era.
An employee’s mental wellbeing certainly affects their ability to work in a team.
But mental health isn’t the only thing that can cause tension between colleagues. It’s well known that opinions on politics and society have intensely divided the world. This mustn’t leak into the workplace.
Having strong opinions and beliefs is healthy, but a cohesive workforce depends on its members being respectful of each other’s opinions and knowing when such matters should be left out of the workplace.
Mental Health Issues
Stress is one of the biggest challenges and health hazards in the workplace. Stress is a native reaction to something and can be triggered by many things, including the job role, colleagues, or home life.
In 2017/18, it was found that over half of all long-term sickness absences from work was for stress and depression – however, it’s also hard for a business to spot as the employee may not want to admit to feeling stressed.
If an employee is feeling stressed, it might not have always been caused by the workplace. Homelife can bring with it its own challenges that can then be brought to work. This can lead to reduced productivity and low motivation.
Side Effects Of Stress
Stress and anxiety can have several side effects, one being self-medicating. For example, alcohol is a depressant that slows the brain and central nervous system’s processes – while at first, it may seem to help people cope with stress for a short time, in the long run, it can be a contributing factor to feeling depression and anxiety – and ultimately make it harder to deal with.
If you feel like workforce member is using alcohol as a coping mechanism, offer them support to seek professional medical care or attend a specialist rehab clinic. Rehab clinics, such as Delamere, can help treat a range of addictions and other associated issues in a safe zone.
Right now, life, as we knew it pre-pandemic, is slowly resembling normality. However, even the strongest among us are dealing with uncertainty, new routines and restrictions on some movements and businesses’ angst to drive up sales and replenish cash reserves.
Stress is a reaction to change, and you’ll know the symptoms such as headaches, upset stomach, chest pains. It’s important to take care of yourself and others and destress before symptoms worsen and bring on harsher health issues like cancer, heart attacks etc.
Put aside some time every day for yourself. Do meditation, even if it’s just a few minutes each day, plus improve your diet to include healthy options like fruit and vegetables.
Add more movement into your day with aerobic and anaerobic exercises. It’s amazing what you can do in your home, so search online for exercise routines in small areas. Reading and doing quizzes and puzzles will also help you unwind and improve your mental agility.