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The one leadership skill you need to increase engagement

After 42 hours of listening to people’s experiences of work, in this episode, Taryn is talking about how nobody wants to go back to the office full time. Only 3 people out of the 42 have said they would consider going back to the office full time.

People are meeting in person, but they’re not going to the office. They’re meeting in restaurants and coffee shops. Does this mean the office needs to turn into a coffee shop?

Even if you go back to the office, the work is all online. So your team meetings and client meetings are still happening on the screen, and offices aren’t set up for that. The WiFi can’t cope with all the simultaneous on-line meetings, the open-plan offices don’t give people enough privacy and are too noisy for effective online work.

In the mean time, the job of a leader stays the same: build engagement, team cohesion and a sense of purpose. Before March 2020, leaders could say they were building engagement and community because people were together in the office. But that wasn’t necessarily the case.

The leadership opportunity is to use become intentional and skilled at building the employee experience and meaningful team engagement. How can leaders use the online meeting tools as ways of building connection, not as task management tools?

Listen to the podcast to find out more.


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Two things leaders can do so people take the support that is offered them

Nine out of 10 people I interviewed this week said they never wanted to go back to the office. But many people are taking strain working from home.

On a pure physical level, a third of people I spoke to this week say they see a physiotherapist weekly or fortnightly. This is because their home office chair and desk are causing them injuries. 

Is a frequent physio appointment now a normal part of self-care? 

Aside from the physical injuries people are suffering, there is also emotional distress. Here, at least, companies we surveyed almost universally understand the need for trauma counselling, grief counselling for people who have lost family members or friends, or coaching and psychotherapy.

Worryingly, there has been very little take-up.

Leaders we surveyed really want their teams to take advantage of their wellness programs, and sell them hard.

There are two disconnects we are seeing:

1. Leaders themselves aren’t taking advantage of the emotional support programmes. They don’t demonstrate vulnerability and still think that using the very programmes they are sponsoring, is a sign of weakness or incompetence. These services are only for people who “aren’t coping.”

2. If ordinary people are staying away from the emotional support they have been offered, maybe they don’t trust how the information will be used. It feels like attending a session of trauma counselling paints a target on your back of not being “strong enough” to cope. And we all know what happens to those people. 

Or perhaps there is just no space in their day to use this offering, given the back to back meeting culture that exists. 

If leaders want their team members to take the support they are being offered, maybe it’s time for leaders to lead from the front. Maybe they could go first. Maybe they can talk about useful things their therapist or coach said and how it helped them cope with what they’re going through.

And at the very least, they could make sure their team members have chairs and screens and desks that don’t injure them at work.

What has been your experience regarding this? We curious to see how this story unfolds with the continued research. 

About this research:

WTFH is a research project that looks at how the world of work is being impacted by the pandemic and asks: Where To From Here (WTF-H). These blog entries are impressions we gained across multiple interviews. 

These are not the official findings as yet.

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