Posted-on June 2021 By Marine Resources
In November, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel of young professionals in the marine industry at the METSTRADE Young Professionals Club. This club serves as a positive hub for networking, career coaching, and meaningful discussions on life in the marine leisure industry for young professionals.
This Round Table discussion convened at METSTRADE 2023 to discuss a how to navigate Wellness and Wellbeing in the Workplace.
Throughout the hour-long discussion, there were plenty of insights worth sharing. I’ll delve into the key issues raised by our discussion panel about collective wellbeing in the workplace, the powerful insights gathered from the past few years and what we can all do in future to support mental health and overall wellbeing at work.
1. Are We Still ‘Processing’ the Lockdown Era?
One of the most notable questions raised at the round table was the question of whether we’ve truly moved on from the Covid era.
As one panellist noted, there was no general ‘debrief’ post-Covid (as you might expect from an employer) if a major crisis unfolded within an organisation. Without that sense of closure, so to speak, it’s important to actively reflect on the lessons we learned about ourselves during this time, and which of these are worth keeping.
Now, it seems many organisations are fast returning to the previous pace of work, with all the implications that may have for employee wellbeing. We each may need to consider whether our current work, routines and lifestyles are in harmony with the realisations we might have gained during those lockdown months. It’s important that what’s been learnt hasn’t been forgotten, and it’s very likely that we all discovered what we want less of in our professional lives and what we want more of.
2. Staying Human at Work
With many businesses now operating with a hybrid working model, unforeseen challenges have emerged in how we manage our time and communicate with colleagues, as the discussion emphasised.
Working with remote teams can pose difficulties in ensuring accountability and fostering connection. Establishing a balance between holding team members responsible for their tasks and building camaraderie within a remote team can be tough, but it is crucial for supporting wellbeing.
In the rush to get work done in a remote environment, it can be easy to lose sight of the needs of the person on the other end of the call or message. We all could do with more humanising of remote work, by incorporating thoughtful check-ins at the beginning of calls or messages. Taking a moment to inquire about team members' well-being, asking about their week or day, adds a personal touch to our interactions. These practices are more than just a formality; they’re an investment in creating a supportive and resilient work environment.
A positive sign is that organisations are more cognisant of the need to check in with each other – a practice that was arguably less common before the pandemic. As one panellist pointed out, it’s now possible for teams to have their own debriefs at the end of a stressful day and talk about difficulties at work openly instead of bottling them up.
3. Managing Flexibility is a ‘Two-Way Street’
These young professionals highlighted questions about how to make hybrid and flexible working arrangements sustainable in the long term.
It’s clear that the approach to the flexibility that works for a particular employee or organisation may not work for another. Some people are most productive when they can choose their working hours; others appear to struggle without the supportive structure of working on-site between 9-5. Neither of these reflects an employee’s value or performance – they are simply natural variations in working styles.
With these factors in mind, the ‘two-way street’ principle is vital for building trust. Just as employees expect to be given flexibility when matters outside of work need attention, employers should also expect that employees put in discretionary effort to get work done when needed. Most importantly, it’s wise for employers and workers to be aware of what supports their productivity best and how this can align with team goals.
4. Addressing Differences in Generational Attitudes About Wellbeing at Work
Differences in attitudes among the various generations at work are another factor influencing discussions about wellbeing and flexibility at work, as the panellists noted.
Navigating the challenge of addressing mental health and wellbeing at work, especially for young professionals, can be complex. It's often seen as a taboo subject, making it difficult for younger workers to approach their superiors with personal struggles.
Managers of a certain age may prefer certain ways of working because that’s all they’re familiar with – which can create a gap in understanding between them and younger workers.
In these situations, making a case for yourself is valuable. As a diligent employee who consistently delivers results, presenting a well-articulated argument linking your mental health to your performance is crucial for negotiating more flexibility at work.
Accept that some individuals or workplaces may be resistant to change. If your employer does not consider your concerns, it might be an indication that it's time to explore alternative options.
As the discussion indicated, a "no" doesn't necessarily mean "no" forever. Engaging in a constructive dialogue with managers and identifying what steps should be taken to initiate a conversation could be what it takes to improve support for wellbeing in the workplace.
Our discussion highlighted the need for a re-evaluation of wellbeing at work and the importance of understanding that it is not a one-size-fits-all concept.
In recent years, many of us have certainly experienced a shift in attitudes about working life, with people realising the need for change and identifying opportunities to break free from outdated beliefs about how and when work is performed.
We’d like to thank all participants for a fascinating and thought-provoking discussion about working life in the marine leisure industry:
Noah Di Paola, Demon Yachts
Preslava McCarthy, Marine Resources
Sam Pickering, RAD Propulsion
Lauren Wardley, Ethical Yacht Wear
Meg Reilly, Magenta Project
To get involved with future discussions or be part of our community, contact the team at Marine Resources. You can also follow us on LinkedIn and join the Young Professionals Club discussion group here.
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