I have already had the opportunity to reflect upon this subject in two articles. I invite you to read them if you want to follow the evolution of my thoughts (by clicking here and here). Today, however, I wanted to approach the subject from a whole new angle: that of happiness and health at work.
The wellbeing of our employees at the centre of our concerns
The subject of this article came to mind while reading different articles about the organisation of work in the companies of tomorrow. My conclusion is positive: companies seem to have really come to appreciate the importance of employee wellbeing as a factor in productivity.
What will it be like after Covid-19?
I am aware that not all of the current changes will be forever, but this change of perspective for many companies demonstrates, however, the profound impact of this crisis on the professional world. It's undeniable, our relationship to work has to and will continue to change.
Work: health or happiness?
A vision of the work supported by the pyramid of needs
What if the two are actually related? Some would say that work destroys health, that you just have to read the numbers related to psychosocial risk factors, to think about yourself, your family; that it is the most important thing. I, on the other hand, am convinced that work can lead to happiness and therefore have a positive impact on health. Indeed, when I look around me, I realise that some of my acquaintances who are very involved and happy in their profession have spent their entire career without encountering any health problems. On the other hand, once they retire, illness seems to have caught up with them.
This observation shows me that analysing this situation through the prism of the pyramid of needs can be interesting. For some, work makes it possible to meet the basic needs (to feed oneself, to keep warm, etc.). For others, it contributes to a need for fulfilment. The important thing, in my opinion, is to be able to accept these two very different profiles and to adapt to each of them. To do so, it requires agility and flexibility. This is what teleworking brings, allowing those who benefit from it to organise themselves according to their priorities, whether professional or personal.
Generate wellbeing to create happiness
And what if the job was, in fact, always a question of recognition?
The worker who works hard every day to earn a living and thus feed their family certainly sees their salary as recognition for the work they accomplished. They give their time to the company when their priority is the family; it is therefore normal that they expect recognition in return, even if it is pecuniary.
Other workers need another kind of recognition that they get through a sense of accomplishment or a certain amount of attention from their employer towards them; whether this is in the form of great flexibility or congratulations.
What I notice with the current crisis and in particular the relocation of the workplace for many white-collar workers is the fact that the company can no longer rely entirely on happiness in the workplace but now has to bring wellbeing to work, no matter where it is carried out. That certainly involves flexibility.
The ultimate goal, in fact, is not so much happiness at work as it is to generate wellbeing to make us happy, in both our professional and personal lives. The two are indeed intimately linked. Work takes up the space in our lives that we grant to it, and teleworking allows, no doubt for many, to bring it back to its rightful place. How many of us did not think about that during the lockdown and the weeks of forced telecommuting that we experienced?
My experience as a Protimer
Of course, such a speech coming from a Great Place to Work company may seem strange. But in truth, this competition in which we participate every year is not just limited to a pleasant working environment or improved work conditions. Even before the Covid-19 crisis, we were already demonstrating flexibility within our company. What I notice now is that the pandemic has only strengthened this aspect of our business, which seeks even more than before to adapt to the individual profiles of its employees.
I would like to end this article by asking a question that will underpin this new relationship to work from now on: what about management? How to manage the different profiles within the same company? It will certainly be necessary to adapt to those who have developed a taste for teleworking and those who, on the other hand, are looking forward to returning to the office. The big question is, how? If flexibility is important, implementing it is not easy. And learning to adapt to each individual is a real challenge.