The New Shape of Work interview series addresses the challenges and uncertainty brought by the coronavirus and how to transition to a more agile workforce for the future.

This conversation between Norman Dreger, Partner and Mercer Germany CEO, and Dr. Wolfgang Seidl Mercer Partner and Workplace Health Consulting leader, covers:

  • How the pandemic is a defining moment, and an opportunity to transform workplaces in ways that genuinely allow people to thrive at work, and in turn, allow businesses to thrive.
  • How empathetic leadership can positively support employee health and well-being, and identify early warning signs that employees are struggling with mental well-being.
  • How kindness plays a key role in increasing employee productivity and supporting a positive company culture.
  • How design thinking can support plans for a safe return factoring in the diverse physical, mental, and social needs of the workforce to provide a balance of flexibility and stability.
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Interesting moments from the interview:

  • Understanding mental health

    "Mental health and well-being support is a key principle of a good return to work. We need to get used to not just returning, but creating a good return to work. It's also key for employers to ensure that workers know how and with whom to raise their concerns because they will be anxious. People had anxiety issues or depression at the best of times, but they get exacerbated during such a crisis."
  • Mental health awareness in the workplace

    "For too long, working practices have evolved with little or no thought being given to the underlying people objectives such as facilitating teamwork, or reducing mental health issues. We have put people’s working environments into the cloud so teams can work remotely, technically that's working, and people can work remotely…But we have not given enough consideration to knowledge sharing, teamwork, and social interaction and the other human elements that are really important to unlock human potential and transformation."
  • Work life balance

    "We have to be quite careful here that while, we are praising the advantages of flexible working for work life balance, which is true for a huge number of employees, we also have to be careful now not to go to the other extreme. To say for instance, everyone should be home-based or office space should only be for meetings and collaboration and make it all sound very modern and  about fun. Because there are some of our colleagues, again on the mental health spectrum, like people with neuro diversity or autistic conditions, that need a predictable space and a controllable environment."
  • Prioritise employee health and well-being

    “In the UK we investigated the productivity question as part of our Britain's Healthiest Workplace survey that we deliver together with Vitality Health. We were looking at organisations that prioritise employee health and well-being vis-à-vis the average organisation. Those who come out tops, in terms of employee health and well-being, save nearly 11 days of productivity per employee. So that's 11 days for every single employee per annum in comparison to those who just have average programmes.”

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