Supporting workers' wellbeing in tech.

If there’s one thing that the Covid19 pandemic has highlighted, it’s the need for technology that works on demand, and is easy to use: whether that’s using video calling software to set up an online quiz or social event, or migrating IT systems to enable teams to work from home successfully.

Whilst many of us have improved our own personal knowledge of different tech, it is clear that the demand on those employees who actually work in the tech sector has massively increased over the last year. (do we have a figure on this increased demand?)

45% of technology employees are feeling stressed.

Research conducted by Randstad in March 2021 uncovered that a staggering 45% of technology staff reported being stressed, with 18% having taken time off because of it. These statistics clearly show that employees in the sector need support with managing their stress levels at work.

But how can employers support their teams with this? It’s clear that establishing a strong atmosphere of trust in the workplace is key: employees need to feel confident that their concerns will be listened to and supported should they raise them. This is especially important when managing employees who may be in different working locations: working from home, in an office, or on site providing technical support. It’s key that everyone feels supported and listened to, no matter where their physical working location is.

Lack of support with employee wellbeing.

Of the technology employees we spoke to, 48% said that there are not sufficient outlets to discuss the situation around health and wellbeing in the IT and technology industry, while 44% of employers admitted that their staff would not feel comfortable asking for help without risk of reprisal or stigma. So essentially, over half of workers do not feel that they have the procedures in place to discuss their wellbeing with their managers. 

How to support positive mental health in the workplace.

As an employer, there are many ways you can support the mental health and wellbeing of your employees and that starts with opening up the conversation. For some, this can seem like a bit of an uncomfortable or overwhelming task, especially if you’ve never done it before! To support, we’ve listed five practical steps you can take to let your employees know that you are looking out for their mental health and wellbeing.

Top tips for supporting tech workers’ mental health:

  1. Check in regularly, both formally and informally
  2. Set up a wellbeing support programme
  3. Don’t forget about physical wellbeing
  4. Set up forums for managers to discuss issues affecting their teams
  5. Get leadership involved

Check in regularly, both formally and informally.

This one may seem obvious, however, can be something that gets easily overlooked when workloads are busy. Along with regular one to one meetings with employees about their day-to-day schedules, it can be a good idea to introduce a similar session aimed purely at discussing non work related issues. At Randstad, we have found that setting clear times aside in the diary has enabled line managers and employees to open up the conversation more.

Alongside this more formal set up, it can work well to have informal ‘coffee and catch up’ sessions, which can be done in person and online. Equally, if you have set up a group chat or something similar to help people stay in touch when not working in the same place, keep this going where you can.

Set up a wellbeing support programme.

When asked how they’d like employees to better support them, a sizeable 67% of tech workers would like to see mental health and resilience training offered by their employers in a bid to boost their wellbeing. Stress reduction workshops weren’t far behind at 58%, followed by workplace wellbeing champions (54%) and mindfulness training (53%). The least popular option, at 44%, was meditation sessions. 

This clearly shows that setting up a wellbeing support programme, or introducing a wellbeing toolkit, can be a quick win to support your employees. The overall idea of something like this is to equip employees with strategies to cope with the pressure of their work, support them to develop skills such as resilience and signpost free resources or professional support. Whatever you set up should be tailored to your employees’ needs, so it could be worth carrying out your own quick survey to check what’s really wanted.

Don’t forget about physical wellbeing.

A key part to maintaining a healthy mind is - you guessed it - a healthy body! When asked how their employers could support them with their physical health, 30% of workers wanted convenient fitness classes at work, whilst 28% wanted healthier eating options on offer. 

These are two key areas that employers could focus on to adjust the culture of their workplace. Although setting up fitness classes may not be possible for all organisations, employers can encourage walking meetings, or could allow some flexibility in employees’ work schedules so they can attend other fitness classes. 

Although not all organisations will have their own canteens, where they do, small tweaks to the menu could have a huge positive impact on employees. Alternatively, employers could share healthy meal and snack ideas with teams regularly, or partner with local businesses to provide discounts on healthier meal choices for employees.

Set up forums for managers to discuss issues affecting their teams.

Setting up a session that is a safe space for open discussion can be an effective way to enable employees to talk about what is causing them/their teams stress and/or affecting their wellbeing without the worry of being judged. By setting up a supportive environment and letting employees know that you are available to chat whenever they need, you can set up an atmosphere of trust. Over time, this will help you build trusted relationships with your employees and you will likely become more alert to shifts in their mood because you’ve taken the time to get to know them better. For example, if you notice someone who is usually quite chatty and bubbly withdrawing from conversations, this might indicate that something is wrong. 

In these kinds of sessions, it’s key to check in with employees without  being overbearing or pushing them to disclose how they feel. If they do open up, listen and engage non-judgmentally, be compassionate, help identify potential stressors and offer support. 

Get leadership involved.

When it comes to implementing plans to support your employees’ wellbeing, input and buy-in from all leadership team members is vital. Encourage leadership to take part in non-work related chat, lighthearted conversations, and wellbeing initiatives, wherever they may be based. You could co-ordinate ideas with all leadership in a private chat, and discuss plans, initiatives and ideas for improving the support you offer to your teams. 

Supporting the wellbeing of your employees is a marathon, not a sprint. Any changes that you choose to make are not going to happen overnight, but it’s important to set up structures and systems that ensure employees feel supported and able to do their job to the best of their abilities.