Back to better: ensuring a better return to the workplace

Madrid / 29 November 2021

As the corporate world learns to adapt to a more flexible and hybrid way of working; employees are bound to be anxious about the evolving new situation. Regitze Siggaard, a Health and Wellbeing expert, explains in this interview the significance of building a sustainable working environment
Communication Department

Regitze Siggaard, with more than 30 years of experience in wellbeing, health promotions and behavior at workplaces hosted some sessions for Siemens Gamesa employees to explain how this hybrid model should be. She is the author of “Strategic Health and Wellbeing at work” and has helped more than 500 companies get the best results from a systematic way of working and making health and wellbeing key to building a sustainable working life. We caught up with Regitze to share how important this venture is and what more as a company we can do to ensure overall employee wellbeing.

  • What does the term Back to Better mean?

    When it comes to improving collaboration, well-being and performance of our employees, we have a unique opportunity to evaluate and learn from the last two years. Back to Better is a term that highlights how we can talk about and find even better ways of work-life balance, ensuring we create the best possible conditions for performance while getting the required results - all this without compromising the sense of belonging.
  • How has the perception of our way of working changed? And what aspects should we take into account for this new reality?

    Many have experienced positive elements of working from home, rediscovering the pleasures of being able to spend more time with family, flexibility etc. In fact, international research shows that more than 50% of all employees across countries and jobs want work to continue to remain more flexible. But we have to factor in everyone's point of view and accept that different colleagues have reacted in different ways. For example for some, working from home has led to increased concerns about job security, a lot of juggling between home chores and office work, family distractions etc.
  • What is the biggest mistake people make when trying to adapt to new ways of working?

    I think workplaces need to set up some fixed guidelines on how to manage the new and more flexible ways of working. For example, a precise recommendation of how many days at home and how many on site can be drawn up. We are still in the learning process about how to handle different situations like hybrid meetings, collaboration and leadership, and therefore we must take the time to try and evaluate these situations and continue to learn from them.

  • Why is it important to recharge our batteries in times of change?

    When changes become a part of our daily life, the capacity in the brain for processing complex information and planning ahead can easily be strained. So in order to prevent stress and enhance mental wellbeing we need to take time out to recharge the brain - thus the importance of time set out for this during the day, week or month.

  • What tools or resources do you recommend taking care of our wellbeing at work?

    If we feel that we are an integrated and respected part of a team, it increases our wellbeing at work. If there is a high degree of psychological safety in the interpersonal relations between immediate manager and team members or among colleagues, it always helps. That's because the trust and sense of being understood, even if one has made a mistake, can allay any insecurities or fears an employee may have, increasing his/her productivity at work.
  • What are the signs of poor wellbeing?

    Look for changes in behavior among colleagues or team members. It can be that one lacks motivation or energy or distances themselves from others, keeping communication short and to the minimum. It can also be that ones that normally are calm suddenly is shorter tempered or colleagues that are known for being positive changes and express to many worries about everything. For the individual the signs can be poor sleep for a longer period, more headache or sadness, a feeling of less meaning in the tasks, lack of overview and plans and difficulties mobilizing energy for solving the assignments with high quality.

 

  • How can we also take care of those around us?

    Ask how you can help if you notice signs of poor wellbeing. Be open-minded and listen carefully to what is on the other person's mind. And make systematic and regular 1:1 conversation between manager and team member imperative to align expectations and talk about wellbeing. In the long term, this is crucial for preventing stress.

  • How can a manager ensure the mental health of his/her team?

    It is important that the manager talks about mental health openly with the team and helps to break down taboos around mental health issues. It can be difficult to get the best information on how team members are thriving – especially on the distance. It can therefore be a good idea to enhance both quality and quantity of one-to-one dialogues between manager and the individual member of the team in order to align expectations to each other. The manager is a role model and must act like one, so being positive and encourage the team to talk about success and remember to use flaws or failures as learnings. Acknowledge progress and the effort the team are delivering is also good for creating trust and enhance the mental health in the team.

  • What tools should a company provide to its employees to help them?

    A company should have a range of options available for those in need, to seek professional help and support. The focus should be on prevention of mental health problems and early detection. Stress can manifest itself into a chronic sickness which can then prove to be very costly both for the employee as well as for the company and society.
Siemens Gamesa's efforts to back to better

Siemens Gamesa has put in place a 12-step process that aims to make health and wellbeing an integral part of the working day. 'Back to Better' is the first step of this process that provides a platform for discussion regarding the difficulties employees may face returning to work and how to implement the positive elements learnt during the last months.

It is also important that employees feel fully supported throughout this process, which is why we have psychological support services available to staff in all our regions. Siemens Gamesa urges anyone who is stressed or struggling with the current situation to reach out and utilize the services available.

This is just the beginning. If we can inspire and encourage our workforce to actively participate in securing their health and wellbeing, we will be well on our way to creating a work environment conducive for great success.

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