Wellbeing will remain the top priority for businesses in 2021 and beyond
According to WHO, addressing employee mental health may be the single most effective tool to reduce absenteeism, healthcare costs, staff replacement and loss of productivity
By Dr Marcus Ranney
The year 2020 marked the point of no return: the global realisation that wellbeing plays a pivotal role in our personal and professional lives. Moving into 2021 and beyond, this will remain a top priority for individuals, businesses and brands to promote and embrace. Given recent global events, the once-in-a-century pandemic, and subsequent economic catastrophe, not seen since the 1930s depression, I believe that it is time to define a new generation — Generation C(ovid).
A key differentiator of Generation C, unlike previous generations, is this is the first time (since the great wars of the 20th century) that a life-changing event is being experienced across all age groups. Generation C has had to adapt to a new paradigm of working modality: work from home (WFH). It can be predicted that WFH will transition to ‘work from anywhere’ (WFA) as the next normal because some business functions are most efficient remotely, while others physically. The future of work will be a blend of working from office and remote working — a hybrid workplace.
Ushering in change
My six-stage framework, called the Transition of Change, includes the journey of businesses and teams from migration to transformation. The migration phase observed a shift from traditional working style to virtual working style as part of the pandemic-infused restrictions. The adoption phase was focussed on business continuity and employee wellbeing. Post the adoption phase, a boost in employee engagement was observed, which led to decreased stress levels in the WFH setting.
The isolation phase was characterised by the highest stress levels. According to the several polls conducted during my engagements with over 50 companies through 2020, it was observed that the top three causes of stress and anxiety were job security, physical health and disrupted social relationships. Microsoft’s work trend report (October, 2020) revealed that the top stressors shared by workers in India was contracting Covid-19 at work, and feeling isolated or disconnected from co-workers, at 42% and 35%, respectively.
The current step for businesses and teams is the acceptance and transformation phase, wherein the workforce is recovering, shifting priorities, and slowly but steadily adapting to the digital transformation.
The human edge
Corporates are thinking long term, and the role of ‘the office’ will come under the scanner as more organisations streamline their workforce. Business Continuity Planning (BCP) will become mainstream as mission-critical business functions become separated from non-essential functions, so they are immune to subsequent disruption. The future of work, as we shall step into, will be more flexible.
According to WHO, addressing employee mental health may be the single most effective tool to reduce absenteeism, healthcare costs, staff replacement and loss of productivity. It will be crucial for businesses to focus on the competitive advantage of wellbeing and move towards an anti-fragile life, maintain and sustain energy levels, create ‘shared experiences’, unleash the maximum potential of the brain, and level up performance to help employees obtain their human edge.
I have a very simple theory to begin the journey of building habits that set you up for success. Among 87 bn neurons, each with 7,000 synapses, our success lies in the ability to form and reinforce a new one. Rule No. 1: start small, start today; Rule No. 2: link habits to form behaviours; Rule No.3: celebrate wins to the power of dopamine.
We are all inspired by athletes, their stories of endurance, and striving to continuously be better. The key is to remember that we are all corporate athletes in our own field. It’s time for us to focus on our physiology and psychology to unleash our limitless energy. Together, we can biohack our way to be the best version of ourselves in 2021 and beyond.