Starting a new job is difficult. We all know that. Whether it’s learning how to use new software, understanding a new culture, or even just making new connections in the office, it brings with it a host of technical, social, and mental challenges. But what makes starting a new job even harder is being 100 miles away from the office, working from your bedroom.
Hybrid working has the potential to exacerbate a number of mental health challenges associated with starting a new job.
Many new joiners, especially graduates, aren’t blessed with masses of room for setting up an office. For some of us, our only viable option when WFH is our bedrooms, creating a blur between work and relaxation.
It goes without saying that hybrid working can also increase the difficulty of forming social bonds, emphasising feelings of isolation and anxiety. You never know who is going to be in the office and it can be hard to forge these bonds over such inconsistent periods of contact.
With the stay-at-home mandate no longer in place, there are also new decisions for young professionals to make. Should I be putting in face time at the office? Am I expected to make these drinks, even though I live far away? When in-person attendance is not compulsory, how do you get this ‘new normal’ right?
These myriad challenges frame the importance of access to mental health support throughout your career, but particularly the early part of it. Luckily, there are many ways that individuals and companies can support the mental health of those early in their careers.
A key part of this is making time for the social, as well as the practical. At FleishmanHillard (FH), we do that through our buddy scheme, ensuring that all early careers employees are paired with a supportive colleague whom they can rely on to help answer any questions, provide guidance in their first weeks in the business, and be a friendly confidant when needed. We also, Covid rules allowing, have been keen to give our employees reasons to come back to the office, organising regular social occasions that encourage our teams to meet and kick back.
Within FH, we also have a number of great resources and initiatives to support all our colleagues in this new working environment. These include the provision of Mental Health First Aiders – staff that are trained to support on mental health issues – as well as Culture Club Calm events which offer different clinics throughout the year, including sleep and mental fitness coaching, financial wellbeing, osteopathy and physio therapy clinics and nutrition.
It is also important to emphasise the benefits of empowering employees to practice self-care. We have some easy steps here at FH to help everyone look after themselves. These include encouraging our employees to follow a healthy lifestyle by providing tips around diet, exercise, and sleep. FH also provides access to mental health resources and support services, such as the Calm App, BUPA Mental Health Service, and the Thrive Mental Wellbeing App.
The ever-shifting nature of how – and where – we show up to work means we are likely to continue to come up against mental health challenges. Access to mental health support as part of a supportive company culture is imperative, not just to early careers but to all employees, to help everyone feel seen, understood, and listened to.
Marcus Dell and Kate Durrans, FleishmanHillard UK Mental Health Sub-group