Unleash Your Wellbeing As we lurch from one crisis to another, it has never been more important to consider how we drive wellbeing at the speed of life
Companies are seeing increased levels of stress and anxiety in their employees
Wellbeing needs to evolve at the same pace as other workplace services
Micro-strategies to tackle wellbeing are very effective in helping employees cope with pressure
When we embarked on our HR transformation agenda at FIS just over four years ago now, we set out some key tenets which were going to guide us. We had the usual vision around data-enabled technology, but we also laid out an overarching aspiration to mimic the real-world experience in our work experience. We call this ‘the speed of life’ and as we transformed offerings, we used this as our strap-line, for example when we launched our new Learning Management System earlier this year for example we talked about ‘learning at the speed of life’. I think the time has come to also consider how we drive Wellbeing at the speed of life especially against the backdrop of a world that seems to lurch from one crisis to another.
AT THE MACRO LEVEL MANY COMPANIES ARE MAKING INVESTMENTS IN WELLBEING STRATEGIES LIKE WE ARE, BUT ULTIMATELY, IT’S THE LEADER WHO NEEDS TO ENSURE THAT AS WE BUILD OUT SPEED OF LIFE SERVICES AT WORK, THAT WE DON’T FORGET TO ALSO FOCUS ON WELLBEING AT THE SPEED OF LIFE.
The speed of life is fast. Technology is ubiquitous and easy to use – people don’t need job aids for new apps they download as the user experience is so intuitive. The opportunity for choice is rampant and data driven (we all use price comparison websites for example), and people share feedback real time and openly through social media. And yet in the corporate world, many are still mostly bound by clunky technology, circumspection around being open with feedback and patchy data to inform decision making. And as corporates work to close this gap and bring speed of life services to their employee experience, there is a risk of adding to the rising tension around wellbeing. There is a pressure between employees demanding everything faster, 24/7, more efficient and increasing levels of stress and anxiety in employees. At the macro level many companies are making investments in wellbeing strategies like we are, but ultimately, it’s the leader who needs to ensure that as we build out speed of life services at work, that we don’t forget to also focus on wellbeing at the speed of life.
There are many resources suggesting micro strategies to tackle wellbeing, the most well-known of these perhaps is Thrive and if you hear Arianna Huffington speak it makes sense – small changes in the way you interact can have big impacts and small changes are easier to make. I recently gathered up some of my favourite of these in a blog and have been collecting things to apply and build into our learning portfolio to help leaders think about how they can help themselves and their teams to drive change. My favourites so far which I have been actively practicing are:
TAKE A BREATH AND TRY RELISHING THAT TIME WHEN YOUR PHONE TAKES 10 MINUTES TO UPDATE TO THE LATEST OPERATING SOFTWARE AND INSTEAD OF TAPPING YOUR FINGERS IMPATIENTLY ON THE DESK, TRY A QUICK MINDFULNESS EXERCISE.
Take a moment to breath: Take a breath and try relishing that time when your phone takes 10 minutes to update to the latest operating software and instead of tapping your fingers impatiently on the desk, try a quick mindfulness exercise.
Use gratitude to change your energy: Next time you call the help desk to complain about a new process being rolled out start by thanking them for their efforts– using gratitude is a great tip as it changes neural pathways and immediately shifts your energy and that of others around you. A variation on this is to start and end each day with three things you are grateful for.
Try the one word check in exercise: try asking your colleagues for one word to describe how they are feeling at the beginning of a meeting, this allows you to meet people where they are and also for you means you are mindful of how your mood is impacting how you are showing up. It’s a hack that is a great one to be using during these times as it helps people centre on being present for the meeting and gives them a much-needed pause for thought as they rush from one call to another.
Vary your day: it’s easy to spend all day at a desk, or as is the case for many during these times, stuck in video call after video call. Consider a walking meeting if you don’t need to take notes and don’t be concerned if you need to turn your video off for some calls, it’s exhausting to be on show hour after hour. I did a conference call with a colleague in Australia recently which we did by phone outside, I was watching the sun come up and she was watching it set and it changed the dynamic of how we interacted and led the discussion in all sorts of directions. It was a great way to kick start my day.
If you are struggling to find a way to balance the multiple competing needs of your jobs with a rich personal life, here’s my top three practical things to start to make a shift and bring your colleagues into the discussion around wellbeing:
Talk about balance: people make assumptions about how you work and if you aren’t open about the choices you make; they may assume you aren’t balanced. I have a tendency to catch up in the evenings as I work across different time zones, which may mean people I work with think I am not balanced, or that they also have to work during their evenings. If you aren’t sharing your working preferences people will form their own opinions. And similarly, if you don’t ask folks about their preferences you may be unwittingly creating imbalance for them.
Control your response: it can be hard to control what comes your way, especially if you are good at what you do. The one thing you can control is the way you respond to it. Find your trigger points, find your decompression points and consider how you respond to them in the most effective way. And of course, ruthlessly prioritise. Constantly.
Identify your untouchables be clear about what you are not prepared to compromise and stick to it. Sharing them openly with your colleagues will help you stick to them and bring a shared accountability. I have three children and the time between 6-8 is blocked in my calendar for them, as is every birthday. My boss, my team, my peers all know this and this has helped me stick to my commitments.
NEXT TIME YOU ASK SOMEONE HOW THEY ARE AND THEY SAY ‘BUSY’ CONSIDER WHETHER THAT’S ACTUALLY A CRY FOR HELP AND SHARE SOME OF YOUR STRATEGIES FOR WELLBEING AND BALANCE.
Wellbeing doesn’t have to be the chimera of our time – as HR professionals we have a responsibility to consider how we embed wellbeing into our learning curriculum, into great manager practice and give people the tools they need to find their balance. And next time you ask someone how they are and they say ‘busy’ consider whether that’s actually a cry for help and share some of your strategies for wellbeing and balance.