There’s no denying that the past 12 months have been testing for everyone. With a new virtual team structure, coupled with spending more time on digital devices, it’s no surprise that it has taken its toll on many of us – from the top down.
But, with the spotlight so often focused on employees, have we potentially overlooked the workplace wellbeing of those at the top. And, if so, how will their experience shape future work models?
Delving into this issue deeper, Oracle recently undertook a significant global study of 12,000 individuals, to assess mental health awareness and issues faced by C-suite executives (HR leaders, CFOs, CEOs) across 11 countries.
The headline take-out is that an overwhelming 85 per cent of top bosses around the world confess to having “significant challenges adjusting to remote work”. This compares to 77 per cent of employees.
That’s not all. The findings revealed that over half (53 per cent) of C-suite leaders struggled with mental health issues, compared to 45 per cent of employees. Specifically, mental health issues are high in individuals living in India, UAE, China and US.
Furthermore, C-suite executives also had the hardest time adapting to virtual lifestyles and remote working. Issues such as lack of workplace culture, and collaborating virtually, adding to their stress and anxiety.
However, it also showed that the younger generations (‘Gen Z’ and millennials) were feeling the most ‘burned out’, as they come to adjust to the new working order.
Emily He, senior vice president, Oracle Cloud HCM, said: “The way the pandemic changed our work routines makes burnout, stress and other mental health issues all too easy. Everyone has been affected in different ways and the solutions each company puts in place need to reflect the unique challenges of employees. But overall, these findings demonstrate that implementing technology to improve the mental health of employees needs to be a priority for every business.”
Yet, while there are many challenges to navigate, experts believe this also presents itself with a great opportunity to move forward with wellbeing at the fore – one of the anticipated HR trends post covid.
Dan Schawbel, Managing Partner, Workplace Intelligence, said: “Amidst the challenges of the pandemic, companies can use this moment as a catalyst for positive change in their organizations. While the pandemic raised the urgency for companies to start protecting the mental health of their employees, the efforts they put in now will continue to create happier, healthier and more engaged workforces in the decades to come.”
All things considered, it has been a particularly stressful time at the top. With uncertainty looming, and working in some industries coming to a halt, difficult decisions have had to be made. In other cases, some industries have seen an influx of work and dealt with a whole new set of challenges that come with this.
Regardless, nearly every leader worldwide has faced tough decisions requiring swift action in unprecedented circumstances. It has raised their mental health awareness, and a number of other issues, including: collaborating remotely, learning new technologies and keeping teams enthused and motivated.
It has also given professionals an appreciation for the value of face-to-face interactions. After all, business is often said to be done on the golf course, at impromptu water cooler moments and at business lunches. All of course now a distant memory.
So, what does this mean for the future workplace? We know that remote working is here to stay, but many of us still crave face-to-face contact, hence the hybrid work model touted as the new big HR trend post covid.
With corporate leaders now experiencing first-hand many of the wellbeing issues we’ve long faced, this has the potential to transform our future office. There has never been a greater appreciation for state-of-the-art technology (tools for doing your job), yet at the same time, there has never been an appreciation for downtime and enforced screen breaks. Some have even already started to respond with ‘No Zoom Fridays’ and implementing bike racks in offices to promote less stressful commuting.
Whatever the outcome, one thing’s for sure. Long after the global pandemic is over, its effects will continue to influence the way we work for the foresable.