Wellbeing, are your team hindered, or challenged?
Updated: Jan 8
I recently wrote about psychosocial demands in the workplace, and how these can impact employee wellbeing. I thought a few of these would relate with some people, but I wasn’t prepared for just how many. One follow up question popped up a lot. “What if we just remove these job demands, surely that would fix the problem?”. Seems straight forward, if we remove the demands, our teams will thrive. No, not necessarily! So, practically what can we do?
Firstly, not all demands are created equal. Whilst high demands are generally associated as harmful to our wellbeing, there have been some surprising positives that have occurred within research on high demands, which in turn have supported engagement. This might be over-simplistic, but a good starting point is to consider the difference between demands, as either challenging or a hindrance.
Challenge demands are work demands that cost effort but also provide opportunities for personal growth.
Hindrance demands are work demands that involve undesirable restrictions and affect an individual’s ability to reach their goals.
We can also look at how an individual responds to the demands. For example, they are likely going to assess these demands and question how they will cope with it, whether it provides personal development, or is it a stumbling block in the way of their goals? Ultimately, they will make a call on whether or not they have the resources, and if they perceive it as a hindrance or challenge. For leaders, this provides a significant opportunity to align challenging, but meaningful work to their teams, which in turn can support engagement and wellbeing. Better yet, is there an opportunity to re-design the teams work, and remove possible hindrance demands
Set up a co-design session with your team and ask them to map out what aspects of work they would consider a challenge (as it presents an opportunity for growth), and what is a job hindrance (a blocker to their goals). Yes, within this, individual perception of the demand will play a part, but look to understand your team and where your supportive leadership needs to focus. I.e. can you demonstrate how they might grow from that demand, and the resource that is available to support them through it.