Kelley Steven-Waiss, Founder and CEO of Hitch, and thought-leader and keynote speaker, Sally Thornton, CEO & Founder of Forshay, a firm that focuses on how businesses optimize performance through project-based work and diversity, inclusion, and belonging hosted our most recent webinar focused on the science of wellness and drivers for positive employee experience, ideas to help teams under extraordinary (and stressful!) conditions and how to leverage technology to facilitate a next-generation work experience for employees, leaders, and teams. Here’s what was discussed:
In unprecedented times like we are experiencing today, wellbeing is central to doing our best work. Learning how to structure our workday and our personal lives to allow time for self-care is essential to our wellbeing. Our experts highlighted the science behind structuring your day to allow for optimal productivity and wellbeing and how to hone in on the when and how of managing projects, stress, and our personal lives.
Hope is Not a Strategy
Step one, create a strategy for blocking time to get things done. Science shows that people are most creative in the mornings and right after a meal. Schedule your creative work in the morning and chart a course to brainstorm new ideas right after lunch. It takes planning and know-how, but it allows us to optimize our busy schedules so we can get more done in less time with less stress.
Emotional reactions, like stress and anxiety, take a physical toll on all of us. Our experts plotted a plan to control these reactions and achieve a better outcome. Simple techniques, like box breathing and cold compresses, can help calm us down, respond more effectively, and make us calmer more high-functioning people. Managing emotions is central to wellbeing especially during unprecedented times, and managing expectations and naming our emotions helps to reframe responses to fear and anxiety.
We are all driven by our emotions. Here is a list of things you can do to work better work and regulate your emotions and expectations:
- Talk with friends
- Write in a journal
- Take time to recuperate when you are physically ill
- Get at least seven hours of sleep
- Pay attention to negative thoughts before and after strong emotions
- Identify when you need a break – and actually take one
Reframing the Hero at Work
We all know that one person at work who works around the clock and keeps a massive amount of projects on their calendars. This overworked individual is often heralded as the ‘hero” at work. Science shows this hero is actually at risk for burnout and may also be draining the productivity from their team. Our experts discussed reframing the social science of who is the hero at work and instead looking for the person that helps people do their best work. This reframing builds capacity and productivity through a better work ecosystem and a more positive employee experience.
Prioritize wellbeing and acknowledge that overworking makes you less effective.
The Value of Psychological Safety
Teams need tools to succeed. They also need a sense of safety in terms of having their voice heard, being able to admit mistakes, and knowing that it’s ok to question the status quo.
Team-based boundaries raise creativity and wellbeing. Oftentimes, teams shy away from creating rules and boundaries thinking a freeform approach will be the most comfortable. Not setting boundaries about things like cut-off times for emails have proven to cultivate burnout.
People need time to restore and calm themselves and time-based boundaries for collaboration are an easy way to establish a sense of calm. As social animals, we need a sense of “off the clock” time to connect with our friends and families. We also need to feel a human connection with our co-workers. An easy way to connect, especially during remote working situations, is to start all calls with a quick personal check-in. Keep it short and sweet and learn what is happening in the team members lives. Other techniques that were discussed included getting outside and taking calls while you walk and the value of these human connections.
Making a personal check-in part of a team’s routine establishes a norm that provides a better perspective into a co-workers reactions and provides psychological safety – making it a win-win for team productivity.
It is often debated who holds the ultimate responsibility to ensure an employee’s wellbeing – the employee or the employer? Our experts asserted that it is an employer’s responsibility to ensure an employee has the time and access to tools that sustain wellbeing. This can be achieved by a purpose-driven organization by providing a healthy journey and making sure that people are learning and progressing, especially at this time during the holidays and during a difficult year; wellbeing is more important now than ever. Developing opportunities for community building and taking care of each other creates a culture of belonging, and as a virtual workforce, a sense of belonging is the most important element to build connections across an organization.
Tips for Building a More Connected, More Productive Enterprise:
- It’s often impossible to know everyone in an organization and people are more than the job they’re doing. Dynamic teaming leverages technology so you can put together great teams that can connect on a personal level and achieve more
- Let mobile employees know they can contribute on a broader basis. Mentoring in careers, life, and balance builds skills within the flow of work and allows people to progress and promote at the same time
- Allow time to think. This drives productivity and develops your whole best self. You showcase your skills and contribute more on a broader basis
You Get What you Give
Give to employees and they will give back to the community. The mobility of the choices ensures an environment that supports wellbeing and feels connected, which drives success across an organization.
Normalize discussions around wellbeing and check in to ensure that boundaries are being respected. Wellbeing needs to become a habit and a priority with a structure around it. If no one on the team has the expertise to do this, call in an expert. Have the courage to start a conversation around wellbeing and how to operationalize these efforts.
Steven-Waiss ended the webinar stating that the key to achieving wellbeing and avoiding burnout is to democratize it with choices. Let your workforce determine a culture where people are free to contribute beyond the home base and be self deterministic about the workload.
“The models of work are changing from hierarchical command and control, but we are slow to make this change,” she said.
If you’re interested in transforming your organization contact us at Hitch. Look for more webinars coming soon. If you want advanced notice about our webinars and resources, follow us on LinkedIn. At Hitch, we’re always looking to partner with companies of all sizes to redefine the talent operating model and increase organizational capacity.
Hitch is a Talent Opportunity & Mobility Platform that matches the skills and passions of your workforce with organizational needs so that business opportunities — whether project-based or full-time — can be resourced from within. This internal marketplace creates a culture of learning, growth, and engagement where people feel valued and the organization achieves greater productivity and performance while retaining its most valuable talent.