Hybrid working has brought about many benefits. Flexible working became more of the norm, rather than a rare perk that only some companies provide. Employees are spending less time commuting—which before the pandemic was a significant source of stress for many. But with any unprecedented arrangement comes unintended consequences.
So far, research and anecdotal evidence have shown that a hybrid workplace can negatively impact the wellbeing of employees. Anita Woolley, associate professor of organizational behavior at Carnegie Mellon University, told BBC Work Life that many workers find juggling two workspaces to be frustrating. A McKinsey report also found that 49 percent of surveyed employees reported feeling burnout at work during the pandemic. That figure is also likely to be an underestimate because most people who experience burnout are the least likely to respond to survey requests, or have already left the workplace.
The combined events of recent years—COVID-19, the racial reckoning, and a move towards a flexible and hybrid workplace, has also changed what employees expect from their employer. Today’s employees expect companies to actively invest and take an interest in their wellbeing and mental health by providing an environment that allows them to prioritize lifestyle and flexibility.
How Does Mentoring Affect Employee Wellbeing?
Creating an environment that prioritizes employee wellbeing is a multi-pronged approach, but certain strategies are giving companies high returns on their investment. Implementing a mentoring program is one of them. Here are four ways it does just that.
Fosters belonging and mental health
Relationships have a massive impact on an employee’s level of satisfaction. When the pandemic limited the opportunity for human contact, a 2021 study published in Nature found that resulted in a decline in psychological wellbeing. Introducing a mentoring program encourages employee interaction, connection and communication, which forms the foundation of thriving workplace relationships. In addition, the presence of meaningful relationships creates a sense of belonging among your employees. The communication within mentoring relationships allows employees to break down barriers and silos while building rapport and presenting a more authentic, true self in a safe and inviting space.
When your employees feel connected to others within your organization, they’re much more likely to be engaged in their work. And when an employee has someone they can share their honest thoughts with, they have the mental space to do their best work. According to a report by Deloitte, a guiding or coaching culture correlates with employee engagement, which in turn helps with business performance and retention.
Establishing a mentoring program is also a great way to provide flexibility to your employees. Rather than a one-size-fits all policy, you can provide various modes for employees to participate—whether it be in one-on-one relationships, mentoring circles that are focused on issues that participants have in common, or flash mentoring to address specific needs in one-time sessions as they come up. Of course, it’s important for you to establish some sort of structure within these options to ensure the program is serving its purpose. But when organizations allow employees to participate in a way that suits them, these programs are more likely to solicit better engagement and wellbeing.
Lastly, creating a workplace that supports employee wellbeing requires a company to be accountable for its actions and promises. Creating a formal mentorship program establishes a structure for your organization to launch, manage and measure mentoring as it relates to employee development, inclusion and support. Mentees can share their thoughts with mentors on what’s working and what’s not, and give suggestions on what might work better. Likewise, mentors and mentees can check in with each other on the state of their wellbeing, asking candid questions and sharing genuine feedback and experiences. A formal structure also allows the organization to track the progress and impact these mentoring efforts are having on the mental state of participants over time.
Creating an effective mentoring program requires time and intention, but it can go a long way in improving your employees’ mental health and wellbeing. An organization with healthy and resilient employees is one that has a strong foundation for long-term success.