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Five Things Every FM Needs to Know About Workplace Wellbeing

Five Things Every FM Needs to Know About Workplace Wellbeing
27 July 2021
 

Psychotherapist and Change Facilitator Noam Sagi defines the employee wellbeing priorities every facilities manager should know about.

In this opinion piece, Sagi recognises the ripple effect of the pandemic on mental health and acknowledges that facilities managers are an integral part of employee wellbeing and positive mental health facilitation.

Sagi is the Co-Founder of 58 Wellbeing, and offers a unique perspective on workplace wellbeing. Coming from a corporate background, to then going on to train as a Psychotherapist and found a major wellness centre in London, Sagi can blend psychological and corporate advice with a true focus on wellness in the workplace. Sagi works with corporations and companies to facilitate mental agility and prioritise wellbeing for employees.

 

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Picture: a photograph of Noam Sagi

The pandemic has been an unprecedented health scare, one which has left many with escalating fears and worries as we navigate the "new normal". Impacting how we work, socialise, think and feel, we have had to adapt in ways unimaginable.

 

1. Provide a Sense of Belonging in the Workplace

 

For many employees, working from home during the pandemic has brought psychological comfort and promoted a good balance in their life (e.g. no commutes, more family time and extended time for hobbies). People have gained more time and control over how they operate and this proves to be a very productive environment for many. Therefore, as employers raise questions around returning to the office, it is unsurprising that many people seek a hybrid solution. With new ways of working, it is necessary that facility managers adapt the working environment to changing employee needs.

Emerging from the pandemic continues to be emotionally taxing, with many employees feeling highly anxious around the return to work and increased social interaction. For some, returning to the office is not an option right now, however, regardless of whether an employee is office based or working from home, they all need to feel “part” of the organisation. Facility managers need to provide a sense of belonging in the workplace, even for employees working from home. This of course is a challenge and many facility managers will be navigating new territories in their roles. It is essential that you remain open and do not resist the change.

 

"We need to recognise that we are all individuals and each one of us will react in different ways to our experiences. From a facility manager’s point of view, it might be that some people benefit from more contact with animals, whilst others might enjoy more plants and green spaces. It is also important to note that some employees might be less receptive to intervention. The main takeaway is that facility managers need to know how to help employees."

 

2.  Appreciate That Humans are Emotional Systems

 

Humans are first and foremost emotional systems, so we react heavily to fear, anxiety and loss. Only once we have reacted can we be a cerebral system, capable of managing tasks. So if employees feel safe, the chances are that they will be more creative, more productive and happier. If we expect everybody to go back to the office and continue as if nothing has happened after 18 months of a global pandemic, we are ignoring the major emotional impact of the events that have happened over many months. Organisations have an opportunity to ensure workplace wellbeing by opening up a conversation with their employees and tapping into how they can deliver safety, security and structure. Ultimately, answering employees' emotional needs.

 

3. Help Employees Feel Seen

 

All employees yearn for a sense of belonging and support within their organisation, regardless of whether they are a manager or a newcomer. However, the paradox is that the higher you go in the workplace pyramid, the less people there are around you. It is important to remember that emotions do not recognise job titles and so facility managers need to take their higher management into account as well, because everyone needs a place to be supported.

Tip: Ensure that you have shared spaces that senior team members and employees alike can gather together and be authentically themselves, without judgement.

This doesn’t have to look like a traditional breakout space, but an area where people can engage with others, share experiences, and feel part of the same team. For example, arrange spaces to hold talks for your employees, whether it be on the topic of "sleep hygiene" or "nutrition" for example, putting on a communal event can go a long way to improving wellbeing. Think about outmoded areas in your buildings, could these spaces be utilised for mental wellbeing and creativity instead?

Coming into the office means something else now and many people seek shared spaces to spark their creativity. This may mean shifting away from personal office spaces and designing the space with hot desks and shared environments in mind. This will also help employees rebuild meaningful connections and emotional safety after months of isolation and disconnect. Facility managers need to consider this within the office design, allowing people to meet together, share experiences and feel supported.

 

4. Recognising the Individual

 

We need to recognise that we are all individuals and each one of us will react in different ways to our experiences. From a facility manager’s point of view, it might be that some people benefit from more contact with animals, whilst others might enjoy more plants and green spaces. It is also important to note that some employees might be less receptive to intervention. The main takeaway is that facility managers need to know how to help employees.

Tip: run a survey to ask employees what they could benefit from and to gauge their feelings around different ideas. Once you have gathered the results, engage HR and senior leaders, and make this a two-way dialogue between you and your workforce.

 

5. Remember the Unique Position of FM

 

If you start to think about your space from a wellbeing point of view, you will be surprised at how much important and positive change you can affect within your organisation. You are in a unique position to improve the quality of life for your workforce, your role is important! You can have a real impact on productivity, profit and most importantly your employee’s mental health and wellness.

By working with top management and HR and prioritising these things, you can create places that will be transformative. Doing it for the right reasons and motivations - as human beings, rather than squeezing square ft into profit will create positive ripples throughout your organisation.

Picture: a photograph of four people gathered around a laptop

Article written by Noam Sagi | Published 27 July 2021

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