The UK currently has 1.3 million job vacancies, and 60% of current workers are job hunting. Many are looking to offset the cost-of-living crisis with a pay rise. Even if this means changing jobs.
A recent McKinsey report looked at why people want to move on. A common result was feeling undervalued by their manager, or organisation; or not feeling as if they fit in. Last week, property firms saw their shares plunge following Bank of America’s recent report. This predicted suppressed demand for office space due to hybrid working.
While it is tempting to view this as a pandemic hangover, this is not a new issue. Reported stress and workplace burnout rates have been rising for a while. The World Health Organization cited burnout as a workplace crisis.
The Great Recalibration
I don’t believe this is The Great Resignation or The Great Revaluation. Rather, what I would call, The Great Recalibration.
Future Forum’s recent global survey revealed that three quarters of workers want more flexibility about where they work. Almost all the respondents also want greater flexibility on when they work. Behind this is a desire (for many a need) to recalibrate the relationship between their jobs and personal lives.
In response to this collective mindset shift, forward-thinking companies are focusing in on wellbeing. It’s no longer a perk or something to be squeezed in around work. Work-life integration is about embedding wellbeing into the workflow itself.
Academics for Harvard Business Review have studied high-flying London lawyers with demanding jobs and long hours. This shared what people with a positive work-life balance had done to shift their lives away from being overly work-focused. A positive habit that companies have encourages is to build schedules according to their true priorities.
As an individual, you must be clear about what both your priorities and boundaries are. You must establish what is absolutely non-negotiable for you to give up or take on board. This will ensure that your professional working life and personal life do not overlap. Creating these clear boundaries will help to create a better separation of these assets in order to not overwhelm you.
I always ask: “What are the critical components of who we are and who we want to be?” Having answers to this question will help us to show up as our best selves.
Knowing your employees and creating a safe space for them to speak up is vital. All bosses must create environments that encourage people to stay, develop and perform. I’ve seen first-hand how damaging it can be when individuals and teams feel neglected, alienated or de-motivated. Part of this is about making sure that the day-to-day routines flows properly.
Remote collaboration can be great. But spending most of your working day on a video call isn’t productive for anyone. Make sure your colleagues have enough time to do their focus work and are empowered to be able to sit unnecessary meetings out. Also, make sure you’ve got enough time for your focus work as opposed to collaborative tasks. Studies show that those employees who spend more of their time collaborating are unhappier at work than those who spend longer on individual tasks.
Technology as a servant
Repeatedly ask your team to prioritise. You’re never able to do it all. Be ok with that.
With the rise of asynchronous working, global teams and more, there’s a risk that some feel that they must be available at all times. This is where you can use tech and physical cues to help you. Switch off notifications out of hours; pack away your work equipment; and shut that laptop screen.
However, as a leader, be very careful about the signals you send out. If you, the boss, check your emails at 5am because that’s what works for you, great. But please delay emails being sent until the recipient is working. People mirror behaviour, and frequently see senior leaders as role models. Particularly those that are newer to the working world. If your seniors start work at 5am, then it’s very hard to avoid thinking that’s what you should be doing. Even small things such as insisting on 10-minute breaks between video calls can have an impact. This will allow people to feel that they can meet their personal and professional needs.
Life-work integration is a framework on which we can build a way of living and working that allows us to truly thrive. The primary goal is ensuring that people enjoy work and their lives, as separate entities.