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Enhance Mid-Management Support For Healthy Hybrid And Remote Workplace Cultures

Enhance Mid-Management Support For Healthy Hybrid And Remote Workplace Cultures

At the peak of the pandemic, most Canadian employees were working remotely. Four years later, we’ve seen a moderate shift back, but the numbers of remote and hybrid employees remain significantly higher than they were pre-pandemic.

In late November 2023, Statistics Canada released a report indicating that the share of the workforce working entirely remotely is 12.6%, and nearly 12% work in a hybrid environment. That means about 1 in 4 Canadian employees work remotely or in a hybrid arrangement.  Many tools and resources, including this blog, were created to help employers through this transformation.

Assessing psychosocial factors in our new world of work

Guarding Minds at Work was introduced long before the pandemic, and it has remained a vital resource for many leaders. It helps employers effectively assess and address the 13 psychosocial factors known to have an impact on organizational health, the health of individual employees, and the financial bottom line. It was used as a reference for the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace.

[Access the free Guarding Minds at Work tool here]

But Guarding Minds, as a tool in use before the pandemic, had not yet been assessed with consideration of remote work environments.  So, in March 2023, Mental Health Research Canada (MHRC) was engaged by Canada Life and Workplace Strategies for Mental Health to assess the 13 psychosocial factors in this new world.  We took the opportunity to dive deeper and added questions about teams, stress and trauma, and remote and hybrid work environments.

When we scored psychosocial factors against the spectrum of work arrangements, from in-person to hybrid to remote work, we found the scores improved for most people working in remote environments. They felt safer, more engaged, and mentally healthier.  
However, our research also revealed something we weren't expecting. When we divided responses into non-management, mid-management, and executive categories, we saw that psychosocial scores improved among non-management and executives – hybrid scored better, and remote scored highest. But the inverse was true for mid-management. Scores were flat or decreased slightly for mid-managers in those environments.

Enhancing mid-managers' psychosocial health has a ripple effect 

While there were some variations in sectors with fewer mid-level managers, mid-management was the defining factor in most cases. Executives set direction; mid-management is responsible for seeing that vision realized. 

Mid-managers have always played a pivotal role in organizational success, and this is no exception.  Creating healthy and strong workplace cultures has become more complex in hybrid and remote work environments and is clearly the most challenging those who have direct responsibility for making it happen.

How can you support mid-mangers in your organization?

Acknowledge the issue – Recognize that most mid-managers have likely never received training on how to build a safe and healthy workplace culture from afar. You may want to look for opportunities to build these skills in your workplace, such as external training and/or peer mentoring.

Start talking with mid-managers about how to bridge this gap – Don’t assume that strategies used in your previous, in-person work environment will work now.

Take advantage of available resources – There are many resources to help you strengthen this skill set in your organization. Many, like the National Standard, are updated as we learn more.

[See Psychological Safety in Practice: A Guidebook for Managers]

Workplace mental health is not an endpoint – it’s an ongoing journey. We’re still adapting to this new reality. However, as you contemplate where to invest time and money, be mindful that focusing first on mid-managers will likely increase your chances of success in creating a safe and healthy workplace culture.

Get to know the author – Michael Cooper

 

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