How can employers embrace the new working challenges of 2022?

December 23, 2021

With advice to work from home (again) and a new report suggesting that reducing hours is not necessarily the best way to improve mental health – 2022 has a renewed set of challenges for employers.

Employers and their teams will start the new year with more uncertainty when it comes to remote and flexible working; on the back of many businesses having already invested financially in measures to make their offices Covid safe.

Remote management, a feeling of working from home déjà vu and a potential for staff wellbeing to take an emotional dip as winter continues are among some of the measures to be addressed, say Peterborough-based Anne Corder Recruitment – who has some advice to move positively into 2022.

Managing Director Nel Woolcott said: “Just as many of us had adapted to either home working, a full return to the office or a mix of the two  – the advice from the government has changed once more; and for many this again presents more uncertainty going into another new year.

“We recognise that some companies may have invested heavily in their business premises and are now forced to temporarily reverse their office working plans, which in turn could affect the mental wellbeing of their staff. It may be timely to revisit some of the advice from early 2021 on managing teams remotely.”

Recent research from the Coalition of Universities found that factors including feeling that work is meaningful, having good workplace relationships and having enough resources and time to complete work were the most important factors in determining employee wellbeing.

Researchers also found that the positive effects of these factors were similar regardless of whether individuals worked full time or just two days a week, suggesting working just a few hours in a high-quality job was enough to support good mental health.

Nel added: “The findings suggest that reducing working hours is not necessarily the best way to improve mental health, and that job quality and satisfaction are key when it comes to boosting feelings of positivity, accomplishment and wellbeing.

“With the start of a new year typically the time when people look for a new job or contemplate a career change, there is still plenty that employers can do to attract new talent as well supporting and empowering their existing members of staff.”

Tips for employers:

  • Check in with your team daily, even if it is just a five-minute video or telephone call to ask them how they are. Ensure your approach isn’t one which may come across as you ‘checking up’ on them. Many will have been used to working from home previously, but if your company has suddenly gone from being an office-based environment to remote once more; some additional support may be required.
  • Start a ‘good news conversation’ and tell staff what a great job they are doing; recognise great results, praise individual performance, highlight the value of the team approach and encourage new learning.
  • Encourage colleagues to take regular breaks and approve requests for an element of flexibility in hours – after all, none of us are strangers to the working from home model.
  • Allow staff to be accountable for their own workload; teaming up with a colleague to set and complete tasks and challenges for example or given a key role in onboarding any new member of staff as part of virtual hiring plans.
  • Draw on previous experience of successful remote managing, the team will already be familiar with the circumstances, but if you have staff who may have recently joined the team, consider updating your working from home / hybrid policy.

Nel added: “Employers have and will continue to face their own challenges of managing their teams remotely. It is crucial that staff continue to feel supported, bosses maintain an ‘open door’ approach and engage with colleagues, and equally that employees recognise the support on offer.”