Are you capable? What leaders need to make teams productive in the new working world

From collaboration to communication, leaders have needed to adapt their approach in recent times. It’s no longer enough – or even possible – to lap the office once or twice a day. Nor are people motivated by the same drivers that kept them going in 2019.

Cracking the whip never really worked. But neither did being passive. Leaders need to be on the front foot if they’re going to beat back presenteeism, navigate uncertainty, and keep their teams productive. 


Empathy is the new driver 

 Team talks that amount to “Let’s take over the world together” don’t quite resonate anymore. Or at least not in isolation. Leaders have to acknowledge the elephant in the room. The future remains uncertain and many teams feel tentative about the way ahead. If leaders are running on ambition, they’re going to need empathy to match it.

Motivation can’t always be hacked by revving the engine. Sometimes you need to check the oil and test the brakes too. If people feel an underlying pressure to put on a face to match an ambitious aesthetic, they’re going to wear out pretty fast.

Mental health issues can affect everyone of any background, but our position can make us blind to the causes. Financial problems are eating away at the productivity of many employees. And many organisations are unaware.

A BITC mental health report showed that once or twice a year 36% of employees run out of money before their paycheck is due. Of these, 69% say they have money worries. They’re 8.8 times more likely to face sleepless nights, 5.7 times more likely to have difficult relationships with colleagues, and 7.6 times more likely not to finish daily tasks. 

This is also a Diversity and Inclusion problem. Leaders who are white and male are less likely to be affected by wider financial inequality issues. And this can leave them with a blind spot as far as financial wellbeing is concerned. Self-awareness, and an awareness of others, are going to be key in addressing the imbalance.

 

Being proactive is the trend changer

Our empathy and awareness needs to be backed up by proactivity. It’s so easy in this remote working world for issues to remain hidden from view. So leaders need to be checking in with their teams more than they might think is necessary. 

Bringing up hot topics in a meeting isn’t enough. When we address pressing problems, from mental health to work/life balance to financial wellbeing, we can’t afford to treat it as a tick box exercise.

But even if you are checking in, employees are going to keep some matters private, particularly if there is some kind of stigma around an issue, like finance. This is why it’s important to have a safe space, like Bippit, so that your employees can speak in confidence about their money worries.

We can also create a healthier conversation by modelling behaviour ourselves. When leaders speak freely about their own struggles, it makes space for others to do the same. 

So if your organisation introduces a mental health product like Spill, which supports employees through slack, leaders can make a real difference simply by using the product themselves. Especially when this comes from C-suite leaders, it can remove the taboo and set the tone for the whole company. 

This kind of example setting is also essential for financial wellbeing. Which underpins more mental health issues than you might think. Vitality’s health at work study reported that 51% of employees had some level of financial concern. And not only are they half as productive, they’re much more likely to make unhealthy lifestyle choices – to smoke or suffer from hypertension or cholesterol – and this has further knock on effects on their mental health and productivity.

But if leaders can model a way forward, reaching out for help themselves, whether through financial coaching or another form of support, we can begin to change this trend. 

 

Support beats self-sufficiency

No matter how apparently unaffected your industry is, the overhanging climate right now is uncertainty. There will be moments when leaders need to respond quickly and there will be in-between lulls where all seems to be well – but teams might be tentative, worried that something could go wrong.

Leaders might be used to handling everything themselves. But the truth is, they need help right now. We can’t respond to every problem and preempt every situation. Sometimes the capability we need is the ability to say ‘help.’

One-to-one support is massive here. Both for yourself and for your team, who will be facing issues they might not want to confide in their boss, or even their HR team. Getting impartial support, whether it’s mental health coaching, leadership development, or financial coaching – it’s all going to be imperative going forward. At least, it is if you want to stay ambitious and productive.

To help you out here, we created a system that matches employees to financial experts, along with a host of preemptive tools and resources. Unlike typical financial advisers, our coaches are not tied to an institution. There’s no product recommendations, hard sells or hidden motives. They’re just looking to help. And that, more than anything else, is what our teams need right now. 

To learn more about how to look after your team’s financial wellbeing, check out our free financial wellbeing guides. Or learn more about our approach to see what Bippit’s own support system looks like in action.