David Mahé, President of Human & Work answers, News Tank.

In 2020, you announced the merger of Stimulus and Psya. How is your group developing with its two brands?

We have created a European leader in psychological health at work. We are going to recruit 70 people in 2022, mainly in the field of mental health, but also in diversity and inclusion, and coaches in the fields of social impact (the social component of CSR) and strategic consulting. Colleagues will also join us: either to improve our geography in Europe, or to bring complementary expertise to our clients.


What are the expectations of companies in terms of work organization?

Companies are confronted with:

  • Elements that they are subject to, such as changing lifestyles, societal expectations or technology-related capabilities;
  • Elements that they decide on, such as the organization of work.

We help them to take into account the new expectations of citizens in relation to work: private-life balance, geography, attractiveness. We also have to help them to think about the right organization of work such as hybrid work and collective moments. With the development of telecommuting, the risk of employee isolation has increased. And companies are asking us to help them organize collaboration within the company.


The mental health of employees has become an issue of concern since the health crisis. How do you support companies?

Psychological health in the workplace is part of every HRD’s roadmap. It is a matter of safety, health, efficiency and attractiveness. We intervene at three levels

  • Support for employees in difficulty via psychological support, social assistance and coaching to help them adopt good attitudes to life at work;
  • Collective competence, including emotional, relational and managerial skills;
  • Commitment to well-being at work and to taking mental health into account. Now that the health crisis is less acute, it is a matter of resuming good habits in order to take the subject into account within the management bodies, but also to put in place policies that enable diagnoses to be made and good practices to be developed.


Does the development of telework go hand in hand with the right to disconnect?

The time has come to take back control of this issue. For two years, telework was forced and suffered. And the subject of the right to disconnect was put aside because other priorities had to be addressed. We need to have a company policy at the highest level with exemplary management.

In concrete terms, this concerns the issues of working hours and breathing space so that the mental load linked to the use of digital tools is controlled. Then, it is a matter of implementing management skills so that the running of meetings, the organization of agendas, the use of digital tools allow for a good balance in terms of mental load.


De plus en plus d’entreprises sont passées au flex office. Comment le mettre en place ?

On the one hand, we have to manage the change by accompanying it and on the other hand, we have to define the right organization of the workplaces. We have discovered that we don’t necessarily need as many places as before. We have also increased the number of places to meet and decreased those to concentrate. A workplace is first and foremost a place of interaction and social connection. This vocation must be reaffirmed because it is a protective factor for employees to find teams and a collective link. People don’t come to the office to find the same things as at home. It is important to define what employees are looking for when they come to the office. The time spent in the office must be thought out in advance and the conditions must be excellent.


Many employees have moved geographically away from their place of work. What are the challenges for companies when they move?

There is an objective risk of casualization of employees. The further away we are, the fewer moments of regulation. The company is not just a sum of labor forces. It is also a collaboration between employees. By being remote, even if it is an initial desire expressed by employees to gain in quality of life, we can lose in quality of work. Working remotely is suitable for autonomous people. But when it comes to planning change projects, integrating new employees, and solving problems, remote work becomes problematic. The issue for companies is not so much the cost of the work but a difficulty in keeping these remote workers in the company.


Management has been shaken up during the crisis. What is the new role of the manager?

With remote work, the manager has lost control over his team and has sometimes been unhappy about it. Our role is to help him let go and trust his team. The manager becomes the facilitator of a team. He becomes the main person responsible for the quality of the team. This can be learned as well. The moments led by the manager must be effective and successful. The manager is also there to create links, to share the elements of the company’s strategy or changes and to take the pulse of the employees.

Taking care of employees, Care, is becoming more and more a managerial skill. Managers are the main interlocutor of employees and therefore need to develop their ability to listen, empathize and care for employees.


Young people are having trouble projecting themselves since the health crisis. How do we approach attractiveness?

This issue is becoming central to companies. The employer brand and the employee experience play a role. For two years, a large proportion of young recruits have received little support in their integration. This was done remotely, with difficulty in creating a bond and feeling part of a group. These generations have fairly strong demands related to the meaning of work, work-life balance and the question of the collective.

Our role is to help the company formulate an “employer” promise that is consistent with what the company knows how to do, but also enriched in relation to what it did before the crisis. Many companies find themselves torn between very positive reasons for being or employer brands and achievements that are sometimes far from reality. We work with HR departments to limit the gap between promise and reality. This involves monitoring onboarding programs, developing skills and encouraging local management.


What are the other challenges of HRDs?

In an economic and social context marked by a decrease, probably lasting, in unemployment, the issues of attractiveness, quality of work and skills will become essential. For several decades, we have talked about employment and little about work. We are going to have to talk much more about work and much less about employment.

Attractiveness also depends on skills. And we are going to have more difficulty obtaining them through recruitment. This means that we will have to produce skills and develop talent. This will be an essential function of the HRD in the years to come.


Are companies aware of these issues?

Awareness exists for psychological health in the workplace, but when it comes to skills development, we are at the beginning of the story. Companies have underinvested in this area and will soon be faced with the problem of talent shortages. They will have difficulty identifying resources and they will have to find solutions to develop talent internally.

David Mahé

David MAHÉ
Founder of Human & Work

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