As technology rapidly advances workplace capabilities, it is crucial to focus on what truly makes our businesses run – the people. An uncertain economy, layoffs, and managing residual stress from the pandemic put pressure on work teams to perform at a high level.
To create a balanced, healthy, and sustainable workplace in 2023, here are five stressors to address:
1. Work-life balance and burnout
One of the most significant concerns for employees in today’s workplace is finding a balance between their professional and personal lives.
With the rise of remote work and technology allowing for constant connectivity, it’s become increasingly difficult for employees to disconnect from work and take time off – especially when many companies allow work from anywhere. This can lead to burnout, negatively impacting employee productivity, engagement, and overall well-being, and increasing turnover.
According to a survey by the New York Times, more than half of American workers report feeling burned out at least some of the time, and nearly half say they need more time off.
To address this issue, become familiar with the signs of burnout, such as increased irritability with coworkers and historically reliable employees missing deadlines. Encourage employees to take breaks, set boundaries around work-life balance, and promote the use of vacation time.
To encourage this mindset, consider adding a note to your email signature saying, “My working hours may not be your working hours. Please do not feel obligated to reply outside your normal work schedule.” Small changes that promote workplace flexibility can drastically reduce prolonged stress.
2. Diversity, equity, and inclusion
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) have long been a concern for employees, but the racially charged climate of the past several years has brought these issues to the forefront. With a greater focus on racial and social justice, employees are looking for their organizations to take a stand and take action to create a more inclusive and equitable workplace rather than turn a blind eye to things that happen outside of the office.
[ Also read 4 tips to broaden and diversify your tech talent pool. ]
You can address this concern by creating roles that attract a more diverse talent pool and implementing a dedicated DE&I strategic plan. In a recent talent blog, LinkedIn reported that from January 2019 to October 2022, there was a 16 percent and 17 percent increase in the share of Latino and Black candidates, respectively, applying for remote jobs on LinkedIn. To continue to diversify your talent pipeline, add more remote opportunities.
3. Mental health support
Mental health has become a critical concern in the workplace, particularly as the global workforce resets following the COVID-19 pandemic. The prolonged stress and uncertainty of the past several years, coupled with a shaky economy, has taken a toll on many employees, and they are looking for support and resources to help them cope.
A key part of supporting employee mental health is eliminating the stigma around taking time to recharge mentally. Fortune’s No. 1 Best Company to Work For in 2022, Cisco, is tackling this head-on and has recently implemented well-being training as part of the company’s core leadership training.
While others have begun to offer mental health support as part of their benefits package, 36 percent of employees still say their company doesn’t offer any therapy, counseling, or related benefits, according to Harris Poll research. Significant room for growth in this area remains.
4. Employee engagement
High employee engagement is an ongoing objective for organizations, as engaged employees are more likely to be productive, motivated, and committed to their work. However, employee engagement has steadily declined throughout the Great Resignation, “quiet quitting,” and recent tech layoffs.
To boost engagement, focus on creating a positive and supportive work environment, fostering open communication, and providing opportunities for employee growth and development. Also, seek feedback from employees to understand their needs and concerns and work to address them. Employee engagement doesn’t happen overnight. It is built on trust and fostered through meaningful, lasting relationships.
5. Future of work and job security
The future of work is a top concern for many employees, as they worry about the impact of technology and automation on their jobs. Undoubtedly, AI is becoming more equipped to complete manual tasks faster.
Be transparent with employees about the potential impact of technology on their roles and work to retrain and upskill them. For example, manual powerline inspections are being replaced by photography-capable drones. Instead of laying off technicians, many power companies are facilitating and financing drone pilot certifications.
The current state of our workforce demands that work teams constantly operate at the highest level. To create a balanced, healthy, and sustainable work environment in 2023, focus on creating an environment where your greatest asset – your employees – can thrive.
[ Learn how CIOs are speeding toward goals while preventing employee burnout in this report from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services: Maintaining Momentum on Digital Transformation. ]