HR be warned | There's a growing wellbeing divide between your leaders and staff

There's a growing wellbeing divide between your leaders and staff

As the months pass, and time progresses away from the bombshell impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the long-term impact on working life continues to shift.

For most, remote working – perhaps the biggest change in the daily routines of workers around the world – is now a standard. However, for all the perceived progress taking place, a divide between leaders and workers is still growing – a chasm that looks unlikely to heal any time soon.

That is, of course, if if the latest data from the Future Forum is to be believed.

The organisation surveyed 10,000 workers globally, to ascertain what cultural changes we’re currently experiencing within working life. What it discovered is a “troubling double standard” in the majority of businesses, with stress among executives declining steadily, whilst anxiety and work-life imbalance continue on an upward trajectory for most.

4 key principles for evolving the employee experience

4 key principles for evolving the employee experience

What is a workplace? What is a workforce? Chances are, we all could have easily answered these questions a couple of years ago, but now the only sure thing is uncertainty.

Everyone is trying to figure out what the employee experience looks like when technology-driven changes to how and where people work is such a significant facet of the new normal.

Download this guide to understand 4 core elements that can influence how you evolve your company’s employee experience.

You will learn how to:

  • Drive productivity through access to knowledge

  • Cultivate cross-team collaboration in new ways

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To put it simply, this comes down to the freedom to work wherever suits your productivity. Whilst executives are taking a laissez-faire attitude to where and how they work, non-executives are nearly twice as likely as top managers to be expected to work from the office every day, and their work-life balance scores are now 40% worse than executive respondents.

The impact on those who are office-based full time is even more dramatic. The research discovered mental health declines twice as steep for full-time office workers when it comes to work-life balance and 1.5 times as steep for scores on stress and anxiety.

“Executives are embracing flexibility while they're telling everybody else to come back to the office,” Future Forum Vice President, Sheela Subramanian, recently told Forbes. “What we're seeing is just a lot more rigidity, more top-down mandates happening and executives are not necessarily setting that model from the top.”

Bark worse than bite?

The news is a daunting example of how severe back-to-office mandates can damage health and wellbeing. However, is the problem actually that widespread? It seems that, whilst many high-profile leaders, such as JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, are touting the expectation for full returns, very few are following up on this threat.

In fact, despite a recent Microsoft study discovering that 50% of companies want to reinstate full time office working, recent data from the Conference Board found that actually, only four per cent are actually doing it.

This flies so ardently in the face of the news, it even surprised the researchers.

“We were all pretty shocked,” Robin Erickson, VP of Human Capital at the Conference Board told CNBC. “We were surprised, given what we’re hearing about how many employers are requiring workers to come back full time.”

What does this mean for the future? Well, whilst the divide between executives and workers continue to grow, the data shows that currently, workers have a lot of sway. With the current talent crisis affecting businesses across the globe, companies are willing to forego the wishes of their leaders to fill positions.

Erikson did, however, state that this may not last forever.

“Hybrid work is going to be the most lasting organisational legacy of COVID-19, but I think the pendulum will swing back. Employers are going to decide that they lost too much in terms of collaboration and culture. I think it will take a recession when jobs are no longer plentiful.”

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