Supporting young worker wellbeing in a hybrid world of work
Being present in the office has traditionally had huge benefits for a young person’s professional development, social life and well-being. Now that hybrid and remote working are more common, employers need to deliberately create moments that allow young workers to thrive, writes Simon Blake
The challenges of Covid-19 have meant that most organizations and employees have adapted what they do, as well as how and where they do it. For young people taking their first steps into the world of work, it was an extraordinary initiation.
We know there are benefits to working flexibly and as we move through the next stage of the pandemic, we can “design” what flexibility means for individuals, teams and organizations.
But it’s important to remember what it feels like to be young and entering the world of work. And while young workers are incredibly diverse, I know that as a young “professional”, living in a new city, what I needed and wanted from work was different than it was. 25 years later.
I have benefited immensely by watching and learning from others around me. I wanted to make new friends to explore and play with. I needed more feedback and reassurance. I wanted the chance to understand how offices and organizations worked and how my role fit into a larger context. I wanted to be inspired and admire older and older people. In short, I took advantage of the proximity.
While we know that being in the office isn’t the only answer to a good induction, learning on the job, or building friendships and social connections, it has always been an important part of the young worker experience. . The last two years have disrupted that.
The pandemic has hit the mental health of young people the hardest and 67% of people aged 13 to 25 believe it will have a long-term negative effect on their mental health. As employers, we have an important role to play in making work rewarding, useful and fun so that it can support their well-being and does not exacerbate loneliness, isolation, overwhelm or contribute not poor mental health.
Build a support system
With many young people now joining organizations remotely or through some form of hybrid working, HR managers and leaders need to have the right support systems in place for them.
Fortunately, the pandemic has shone a light on the importance of workplace mental health and wellness strategies. Done right, we can support employees at all stages of their lives and create cultures where everyone can give their all at work.
These young people have the potential to be the future leaders of your organization. By helping them thrive in a workplace where people can talk freely about mental health, we encourage them to lead with empathy as they progress to leadership roles.
Induction is essential
Make sure your induction process is right for your purpose now. Onboardings that happen face-to-face in the workplace will be very different from those that happen remotely or through a hybrid model. Get everyone involved and encourage them to put themselves in the shoes of the newcomer and think about the role they can play in welcoming and supporting young professionals.
Keep communication open
You won’t have “on the desk” moments. For people to learn and grow in their role, they need to know who to talk to and when. At a basic level, this means understanding the different ways of communicating. What is the culture around phone calls, video calls, emails and instant messages? How does the team like to communicate?
On a broader level, HR managers and managers could hold Q&A or spotlight sessions for all colleagues to learn more about specific areas of work, as well as discuss general questions or concerns they have.
Provide wellness support
The increase in hybrid, remote, and flexible work options post-pandemic has been beneficial for many employees, but working remotely all or most of the time can present challenges for younger employees. These include not bonding with their team, not benefiting from the mentorship and guidance of others, or feeling disconnected from the wider organization.
Many young starters will be eager to meet new people in the company and establish friendships with colleagues. Hybrid work models can make this more difficult and social events are less regular. »
Explaining what support is available and what an employee assistance program, for example, actually offers, is important for those with little experience in the workplace.
Promote human connection
Many young starters will be eager to meet new people in the company and establish friendships with colleagues. Hybrid work models can make this more difficult and social events are less regular.
Just last week almost two-thirds of our staff at MHFA England were in the office. It was glorious! I loved the buzz. It reaffirmed my belief that while we can and should work more flexibly, we must never lose sight of the importance of social connection for efficiency and well-being.
Given the decline of organic opportunities for socialization, let’s deliberately create these moments. Help young people feel part of the company and give them friendlier faces to turn to. It can also help existing team members stay connected and boost morale.
From training and mentoring to socializing and meeting new people, the hybrid working world has created challenges and opportunities for us to connect with our teams in different ways. Now is not the time to set up formalized long-term hybrid work plans; it’s time to experiment and find ways to get the job done, support social connections and thus generate energy and promote well-being. This will help all newcomers thrive in your organization, wherever they work.
You can find loads of healthy remote working advice in MHFA England’s resources to support your mental health while working from home.
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