Everyone has their own preferred way of working. Not everyone is an early riser or a night owl, and the optimum times for focus can vary wildly from person to person. The widespread move to homeworking that came with the outbreak of COVID-19 saw some employees starting and finishing work earlier, others later, and others breaking up their day with offline activities from home schooling to walking the dog. Now, in hybrid models, many employees have continued to solidify their own personal habits, and work in the way that suits them best.
This is a positive result to have come out of the difficulties in the last 18 months. But hybrid work is not without its challenges. Half of UK workers (51%) reported feeling “burnt out” at the end of 2020, and a World Economic Forum study found some homeworking employees during COVID-19 lockdowns ended up working longer hours, having more meetings, and sending more emails. It’s clear, alongside all the benefits of hybrid work, that without visibility into worker welfare comes a very real risk of burnout.
Burnout is not a new concept, but it has become a hot topic over the last 18 months thanks to its ties to hybrid work. Our own recent survey of 2,000 UK hybrid workers found that 30% are working longer hours and 31% struggle to switch off from work. The “mission creep” of work into home life is clearly a major problem in hybrid models, and organizations need to find a way of combating it. On top of this, 27% said that hybrid working made them feel more isolated, which could also seriously impact well-being over time.
This is the challenge: organizations offering hybrid models want their employees to work how they prefer. But with everyone working different hours, it can be hard to make sure that individuals aren’t working excessively long days and putting themselves at risk of burning out. When everyone was working in an office at the same time, it was easy to see if someone was frequently staying late or overdoing it. It was also easier to see interactions between employees – who is more confident, and who is quieter and might be struggling to form relationships in the workplace? With a dispersed workforce, it can be harder to safeguard employees. HR teams need to be able to carry out regular checks on remote workers’ well-being, but this is a challenge when no one can observe an employee in person.
For instance, with employees working from home, there is a significant difference between someone who started at 8am and finished at 8pm, but who only actually worked eight hours throughout the day due to long breaks, and someone that has worked flat-out for all 12 of those hours. But organizations can really struggle to tell the difference between the two. Being able to make this distinction will be key to protecting staff.
The solution to this conundrum is for IT teams to gather data points that measure well-being through workforce analytics – including work patterns, collaboration and team metrics, and out of hours working. This data can then be shared with HR teams to give them a lens through which to assess well-being.
Scalable Software’s workforce analytics platform, Acumen, arms IT and HR leaders with deep understanding and visibility into how employees are working. HR are equipped to spot those at risk of burnout and identify when unhealthy working patterns begin to emerge. HR can then take appropriate action by stepping in to reduce workloads and instill healthy working behaviors in employees, as well as identifying training and skills gaps that might be causing additional stress.
One other tool in the arsenal for safeguarding well-being is understanding how successfully teams and people are collaborating. Relational analytics allows organizations to do this, providing evidence-based data points on team cohesion and efficiency, employee innovation and influence, and collaboration across the workforce. By employing relational analytics, HR can map out communication pathways between individuals to identify employees who are talking to very few people and are at risk of feeling isolated. Acumen’s relational analytics element gives organizations deep visibility into shifting dynamics – from how connected and communicative teams are, to whether they work collaboratively, and what their prominence and influence is. This empowers organizations to reduce silos across their business, identify key performers, de-risk single points of failure in the employee chain and build a healthier, happier, more productive business.
Providing such insights through analytics blends technology with human empathy, so organizations can get a true understanding of employee well-being. This will be key to preventing burnout and keeping hybrid workforces happy and healthy.
To learn more about how Acumen can help your organization strengthen its hybrid model, visit here.