Bringing the Work life balance to Work from home

In my previous blog ( https://pritramans.wordpress.com/2020/10/15/de-stress-to-avoid-wfh-distress/ ), I shared the results of my survey of WFH (Work from Home) and its impact on the employees both professionally and personally (Mental wellbeing). In fact, going by the results, it’s evident that WFH is adding to the stress of the employees. I also stated that this new WFH model is going to post big challenge to HR Leaders as they will fight a duel battle of targeting increased productivity and also look after the mental wellbeing of the employees. The old methods of employee engagement may not hold true in this WFH and Leaders will have to innovate to handle this growing challenge

Few may argue that if WFH is increasing productivity then why should HR leaders unnecessarily deep dive into mental wellbeing of the employee. After all, it is productivity that matters and is being met efficiently. Well, it may be true for short term, but the real challenge will be to maintain efficiency in longer run and not just for few months. If mental wellbeing of employees not addressed right at the beginning then I won’t be surprised that corporates will soon start witnessing loss in productivity, increasing infighting between the teams and high attrition rates.

It’s about time for HR Leaders to take some innovative initiative to address this growing challenge of mental stress while WFH which may look small today but will grow at a rapid pace in few months’ time.

Here are a few suggestions which HR leaders can try implementing for improving employee productivity with efficiency in longer run

  1. Weekly Team meeting– All employees are human; and nothing can match the charm of a face to face interaction in building bonding among the team members. I suggest, all employees or employees of a team/division can meet one day in an office to discuss on status of their projects, task etc. Let us suppose its five-day week office then 20% of the staff can come to office every day.  By adopting this model, Companies can reduce burden on their real estate costs as they will be needing to maintain only 20% of the existing capacity. Yet, the interaction and planning of the team will go on as it is. They can plan, review and discuss one day in office and rest of the week they can work on it.
Employees doing team meeting once in a week

2. Monthly Nukad Sabha– My interest in knowing different culture always take me to many places. Few years back, I was in a village of north India on chilly winter evening. I saw people from different age groups were gathered in the evening in the chai shop and discussing various issues. They share own learnings with each other. I observed this activity closely for few days. I feel that it really helped them all. It provided them the much-needed platform to vent out frustrations and learn to tackle issues from others. I have seen many types of diseases among the villagers but never find one person with stress or depression despite the hardship they must went through each day of their life. A monthly nukad sabha of employees on the similar lines will be very helpful for HR to keep the high energy level of the employees. They can hire a conference room for a day and let them share their problems, ideas and learnings. This can provide a much-needed platform for them to vent out and they believe that organization is listening to them.

Nukad Sabha in the village

3. Counselors – In WFH model, many employees fighting the battle of the mental health. Managers may not be well equipped this kind of challenges. So far, Corporates have kept Work and Family issues in two opposite direction of the number line. It is time to bring them together. Corporates provide different kind of perks to employees like insurance, car, holiday vouchers, etc. But with changing times they need to modify it a bit. An access to counselors will be a great initiative and will add great value to the offerings. Employees are not always going to be comfortable discussing their problems with Managers or HR. At the same time, they will not go to professional shrink due to high costs and; in some cultures, these issues are not given importance. This initiative will give them an easy access to the counselor. This will not be a cost to the companies. They can always go to the drawing board and restructure the CTC.

Employee Counselling

4. Mandatory leaves– One of the challenges in WFH is that employees find it difficult to differentiate between office days and holidays. With family around, he/she always remain in lines of fire for doing office work during holidays. Many companies do provide mandatory leaves, but I advise HR leaders to create mandatorily leave for 10 days and during this leave, employees can’t access any of the office system. Better, they need to deposit their laptops to the office during this leave period.

5. Work life balance learning modules– Every companies have different modules of training for its employees both offline and online. Few are mandatory while other are optional. HR leaders should try creating a module or training on how to maintain work life balance. Mid and Junior level employees find it most difficult to understand Work Life balance concept.  I can bet on this that it will going to yield much better results. Every companies have different style of working because of different product portfolio. Needs and requirement will vary of every organization. Just attending Work Life Balance session or lectures will not be of any use unless it is married to the requirement of the organization. So, I won’t suggest to just buy any Work life balance module from the market and implement in your organization. Take the help of consultant or Leaders in the organization to design this module.

6. Holiday Working- It is one of the components, HR leaders can seriously research to plan and implement. They should provide an opportunity to employees to choose his home in any of the tourist location for a week and can work. Of course, this should be mandatory and there should not be an option to exchange with money. If not used, it lapses. So, an employee WFH can decide to work from a resort in GOA for a week in a year. It will provide him much needed fresh air and thoughts which eventually help him to reduce the stress he got due to WFH.

An Employee working from a Tourist spot

7. Encourage family support- In any battle, its frontline forces who fought from the word go with the enemy but who are the pillar of strength for these frontline heroes. It’s their forces which support them with arms, ammunitions, foods, medical aids etc. For an employee, family is the pillar of strength. You will agree that its family support that helps him/her to achieve the goals. Employers need to stay connected with this very important pillar which indirectly contributes to the success of the organization. Here I wish to share a very short story- One of friend decided to leave his company for a new opportunity and surprisingly he must fight biggest battle at his home for leaving the company. His family was not ready for him to leave the company because his company always have some or other initiatives for the families of the employees. But while corporate do all type of training for the employees, they hardly do something for the family. I think in the current scenario of WFH, corporate should organize trainings for the families on how they can support the employee while WFH. It will have a dual positive effect, first family will feel to be part of the company, secondly, they will be able to better support the person in his work.

An Employee struggling to WFH

HR leaders should try mix of activities to boost the morale of employees and helping them to keep stress away. Families have a great influence in decision making of any employees and hence it’s important for the companies to find ways to remain connected with the families. Councilor is must in the modern era of working. Access to the councilor will be great initiative as in a society like us people tend to ignore the mental health and don’t want to spend money on counselling session but if it is provided by the companies, it will be win-win situation for both companies and Employees. It will help organization in connecting with the family which eventually lead to higher productivity and low attrition.

I am sure, these initiatives will not add any extra cost to the companies as they can always restructure the CTC to accommodate these benefits. In the world of WFH or remote working, these initiatives will surely increase employee’s productivity. More it will help in earning employee’s loyalty & will add goodwill for the brand.

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