“There’s so much that pushes us in the direction of being burnt out, a massage isn’t going to cut it”. The psychotherapist Hilda Burke discusses the concept of a “commodification of wellness”, claiming that short-term remedies and transient benefits will not solve the problem of burnout.
While this has been a prevailing issue before the pandemic, remote working only heightened this issue. Over the past year, remote workers have found themselves unable to switch off due to the potential fear of not appearing present or working hard enough. Meetings have become inflexible with the knowledge that workers are confined to one space.
The hybrid model (a mixture of remote and on-site work) could be a positive shift for workforces but cannot be the singular response to supporting employees post-covid. This working structure has the potential to be a plaster on a toxic work environment.
She argues that there is a problem of co-dependency within companies, where employees are more likely to allow their manager’s inability to switch off to affect their working habits, meaning they don’t feel able to say no to work for fear of not appearing dedicated to their roles.
Put simply, without a strong, people-focused framework in place, there is potential that short-term fixes like holidays and small benefits could allow company leaders to take advantage of their employees’ inability to switch off.
Combatting this requires a people-focused hr department - one that focuses on harnessing talent, supporting employee wellbeing, and placing people at the heart of business strategy. A number of leading companies have adopted this change across the creative industry, and have seen results in retaining the talent they have throughout the pandemic and attracting new candidates who want to join a people-first business.
Storyblocks have implemented no-meeting Wednesdays, giving employees time to work without interruptions. iStock’s HR team have encouraged leaders to be open about their own care, so employees feel more comfortable to ask for support for themselves. A number of companies have adopted a hybrid working model, including Facebook, Dropbox, and Microsoft. Structural changes that benefit employees are testament to a people-focused approach.
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Director, HR Division, Handle Recruitment