People with Passion: Meet HR Consultant, Vanessa Hennigan, and improve stress management for your team in the era of hybrid work

Welcome back to Ignite Technology’s People with Passion blog series where we’re featuring our team members from across North America who make an impact both at work, and in their lives within our communities. We’re a diverse team, all experts in our own fields, who share a mission to create better ways for people to work using technology. With our goal of Connecting People and Ideas through Technology, people are key.

It’s hard to be productive when you’re experiencing stress. With video conferencing fatigue weighing on us all and information overload being heavier than ever, the way that teams collaborate, connect, and innovate together need to be flexible.

Hybrid and remote work have become increasingly popular, and there are numerous opportunities to improve how your team experiences the workplace.

Two people with mountain bikesIgnite’s HR Consultant, and founder of Momentum Human Resources, Vanessa Hennigan recently delivered an amazing session to our team, arming us with the resources to integrate wellness practices into our work and beyond. Luckily for us, she agreed to share her wisdom in our blog.

We will cover how you can best support yourself, your coworkers, and your teams if you’re a leader at your company. But first, let’s learn a little bit about Vanessa and how she became a part of Ignite’s team.

Inspired people-first programs and policies that help teams thrive.

Vanessa brings valuable expertise to the team because of her amazing ability to guide organizations through how they can better support their people using programs, resources and competitive compensation that go beyond salary.

When she started Momentum HR in early 2020, it was a natural fit as Ignite Technology was gearing up for growth and required help navigating the change. Vanessa was already acquainted with a member of our executive leadership team, Rommell Mendoza, through their shared passion for mountain biking.

“Ignite is a people-first organization that really lives up to the term. The human-centric approach they apply to their overall process means they’re designing digital experiences that are accessible, inclusive, and highly adoptable for teams,” Vanessa says. “And the people-centric mindset is echoed internally. I love working with this group.”

Success and stress: They look different for everyone.

Stress and mental health have been pressing topics for people leaders in the past, but they were intensified by the pandemic and its impact. In each department, team, and even role, there might be different approaches needed to support wellness at work.

Each person will face stress differently, but there’s a lot we can do to start moulding our company culture and influence a positive work environment.  

Check out Vanessa’s top tips for teams to decrease stress in the hybrid workplace:

It starts with you! Self-care for the modern workplace.

Achieving #WellnessAtWork involves the entire team, but there are some quick things you can do for yourself to manage stressors as they come at you throughout your day.

  • Do a quick mental health/wellness assessment. Check in with yourself using the Canadian Mental Health Association’s free Mental Health Meter “It’s a great way to do a pulse check and build awareness of how you’re really doing,” Vanessa adds. “Because building self-awareness is really the first step to managing stress.”
  • Take mindful breaks (no matter how short) that decrease stress. Practicing yoga and meditation are two of Vanessa’s favourite ways to get back in tune with the present moment when she’s feeling immediate stress, and they also help build resilience when practiced consistently. “Even if I can only do a few poses or meditate for a couple of minutes, that’s great. If you want to get back to a grounded state quickly when you’re faced with stress or 
    anxiety at work, try
    including mindfulness of some kind into your daily routine,” she suggests.

  • Get outdoors. Vanessa is a huge advocate for getting outside and using fresh air as a quick reset when your stress levels start to rise. She rides her mountain bike and has recently fallen back in love with skiing after having her two kids – at only four and six-years-old, they’re already out skiing and mountain biking right alongside their parents!

Connection and belonging for coworkers in a dispersed workforce.
We’re all responsible for learning to collaborate with care, but there are some ways you can help support your teammates and influence a culture of wellness at your company.

  • Put your phone out of sight and be present. This means no multi-tasking when you’re supposed to be listening! Becoming a good listener is the best way you can promote empathy and belonging at work, whether you’re face-to-face, or on a video call. Set aside your judgments, any distractions, and really listen. If you’re a leader looking to better support your team, you can dive deeper into how to make listening your superpower, here.

  • Take extra care to communicate when it comes to scheduling and expectations. Flexible work means you won’t always be on the same schedule as your colleagues, customers, or other connections – some folks may still observe your traditional 9-5, but others may opt for hours that work around their wellness, families, and other responsibilities.

    TRY THIS: “You could include a note at the bottom of your emails or in your e-sig that sets an empathetic tone. If you say something like, ‘My workday may look different than yours. Please do not feel obligated to respond out of your normal working hours,’ you let that person know that it’s okay to respond in their own time.”

  • Get to know people and engage in community spaces. Social connections are great for keeping stress at bay, and while hybrid teams may be more dispersed, it doesn’t keep them from bonding in creative ways. At Ignite Technology, we’re a Cisco house, so we make good use of Webex Spaces for our internal engagement activities and initiatives. If you have a collaboration space like this, start participating in these groups and watch your work connections flourish.

    Want to hear more about what Ignite’s team does to cultivate connections and belonging with each other? Read our blog on Employee Experience in the hybrid workplace.

Lead with empathy for a workplace where everyone can thrive.

  • If your company has an Employee Assistance program, use it! They likely have resources available there for leaders to help guide and work with team members going through a rough time.

  • Give your team the tools they need to work from anywhere. People need a reliable collaboration platform that can help them be just as productive virtually as they would be in the office. Ignite designs solutions with user experience top-of-mind to support hybrid teams looking for seamless connections, no matter where you happen to be working that day. Connect with us today to explore the options for your custom solution.

  • The skillsets needed to be a great leader have changed, and people value an empathetic leader. You can start practicing empathy today by taking the time to ask more questions, seeking to understand your team members, and being prepared to have conversations on more challenging subjects, like mental health. Knowing it’s safe to share their concerns with you goes a long way in managing your team’s stress levels.

Don’t let tech stress your team out. Ignite works with you from start to finish to design, deploy and support your tailor-fit solution, and provide on-going support. We even have Adoption Services to help maximize your investment.

When your team uses technology with confidence, they’re free to work without disruption. Connect with us today to explore your custom solution with one of our experts.

Sarah Allen
~Sarah Allen, Content Coordinator

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