Wellbeing Replaces Trust as Main Priority in Workplace

by Alan Lyons, Business psychologist and Partner at KinchLyons

A research study from Queen’s University Belfast into Covid-19 psychological wellbeing found that 25% of us are lonely.

The 2020 Deloitte Monitor report says that one in six workers are experiencing a mental health problem; and stress, anxiety, and depression are responsible for 50% of lost working days. These findings raise a question: How can organisations create a culture of wellbeing for their employees?

There are five facets to healthy high-performance.

  1. Energy

Sustaining and renewing physical energy to have the capacity to keep going through challenging times.

With more employees working from home, we are under the ‘constant gaze’ of online meetings. Sustaining energy when working from home is a challenge, with many of us engaging in physical activity to maintain wellbeing.

During 2020, Fitbit reported a global increase of their users doing non-gym exercise and stress-reducing activities. Many of these users did not take up these activities for the first time during 2020; rather, they reengaged with these activities, which they had previously done to a lesser extent.

Tip #1: Tap into something you have done previously (or even thought about doing) and make it into a 2021 habit. Ensure you, and your team, schedule short refresher breaks and activities to replenish and recharge.

  1. Future Focus

Have a purpose and sense of direction to move forward without getting stuck or feeling held back.

A future focus is good for wellbeing. French military general Napoleon Bonaparte said that leadership was about being ‘a dealer in hope’, and hope acts as fuel to keep up momentum. While 2020 might have been a bad year for the ‘ego’, it might have been good for the soul and have given us the opportunity to look forward. Leading with hope requires optimism, and, as Amos Tversky, an Israeli psychologist, says, ‘If you are a pessimist, you suffer twice’.

It is worthwhile to look forward, averting added discontent.

Tip #2: Set aside time for you and your team to reflect on your ‘Why’ and the contribution each of you want to make and encourage your team to focus on the bigger picture.

  1. Inner Drive

Sustain self-belief when times get tough; display confidence, motivation, and perseverance.

This facet often reminds me of a bumper sticker, which said, ‘Don’t believe everything you think’.

Matthew Killingsworth, a Harvard psychologist, conducted research that found that 50% of the time people are thinking about something other than what they are experiencing to escape present anxieties.

However, 80% of the time what we are thinking about is more stressful than what we are experiencing. Allow yourself time to reflect to determine the objective realities of your situation.

Tip #3: At the end of each day, jot down three things that day that have gone well. These will provide you with points of reflection during challenging times.

  1. Flexible Thinking

Concentrate on the present to enable a positive and adaptive response to change and challenges.

Multi-tasking inhibits flexibility and when working from home, multi-tasking seems to be much more common.

In psychology, there is a concept called ‘switching time’, which shows it takes 25% longer to complete a task while multitasking. Instead of giving you time, multi-tasking seems to take time away from you.

Tip #4: Focus on the present and quit the multi-tasking.

  1. Strong relationships

Build open and trusting relationships and be ready to ask for help during challenging times.

Working-from-home went from feeling like ‘a perk’ to one of ‘isolation’. Yet, creating social connections with colleagues is important for wellbeing. Managers can struggle, too, when leading remotely.

Tom Peters, of McKinsey, championed ‘management by wandering around’. However, is it a little trickier to ‘manage by zooming around?’

Loneliness is detrimental and we are more resilient when we feel a sense of belonging to others. In 2021, create opportunities to connect and build social connections with colleagues.

Tip #5: Prioritise wellbeing by providing an opportunity to discuss it at the start of every one-to-one conversation. Build an online group with colleagues and encourage them to seek support.

We cannot change the situation we find ourselves in; however, we can transform our experience of it by practising the five tips outlined above.

This article was first published in the Irish Examiner

About the author
Alan is a business psychologist who works internationally as a leadership coach, trainer and keynote speaker. He is a partner at KinchLyons – where psychology means business!

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