Approximately 30% of people working from home during this pandemic have worked more hours at home than they would in the office. As the days get shorter with the festive period around the corner, work will become busier and more hectic to meet end of year targets.
In addition to this the second lockdown in the UK has meant we’ve all had to readjust back to a life of limited contact. All of these factors added on top of our normal day to day lives will no doubt have a massive impact. And so, organisations must prioritize employee health and wellbeing to keep productivity and motivation levels high.
Research shows that there is a wealth of evidence suggesting the introduction of wellbeing initiatives can lead to better engagement, better morale, a healthier and more inclusive culture and a lower sickness absence. The effects of this support businesses to improve their key performance indicators as employees remain happy and motivated.
During this pandemic, employee wellbeing has become a big focus for many firms, however; there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach when designing a health and wellbeing strategy.
Below are 6 key focus areas firms can look to prioritise for increased employee wellbeing:
Covid-19 has brought major challenges, both personally and professionally. Not only are we faced with the worries of becoming ill, but many employees feel demotivated and isolated working from home.
A study found that around 35% of employers fear their workers may be bored or demotivated due to continued time away from workplaces, and are concerned for their mental health. Others on the other hand, feel overwhelmed with having to juggle demanding workloads and personal responsibilities.
This is likely to have an impact on their mental health and stress levels. Studies show that 1 in 5 people felt they couldn’t tell their manager if they were overly stressed at work and less than half of people diagnosed with a mental health problem had informed their manager.
Organisations need to ensure that they create an open and supportive culture for employees so they become more comfortable with talking about mental health over time. This will not only improve the health of their staff but help the business perform better due to increased focus and motivation of employees.
Listed below, are employee wellbeing tips on how organisations can look to better support the mental health of their workers:
Whilst the majority of the population are working from home, the physical health of employees is just as important, especially for key workers and staff that are required to go into the workplace.
A study found that more than two-thirds (68%) of executives say that employees have become fearful about workplace safety. Safe working practices and equipment are key to ensuring employees feel as comfortable as possible when at work.
This will become even more important if firms look to re-open offices in the future.
It goes without saying that exercise benefits the body and physical functions, however it also has a big impact on our reasoning and executive function.
Many studies have found that it can lead to better mood and higher productivity at work even with a small amount of exercise during the day. Employees that neglect their physical health can cost their employers a lot more from presentee-ism (when employees come to work but don’t work at their best due to illness) and absenteeism (when employees miss work altogether because of sickness).
A survey found that increasing physical activity could add 5 days of productivity per employee each year. For employers this is a simple way to save them money and create better results for their business.
So how do we encourage a healthier lifestyle for our employees especially as many are now hesitant to step outside?
Managing personal finances during the coronavirus outbreak has completely changed. Many have seen their savings diminish with 32% having less than 1 months savings from a survey of 10,000 UK employees.
People in the most financially precarious position have struggled to make ends meet despite the furlough scheme, credit card, loans, and overdraft payment holidays extension.
In a 2020 Workplace Wellbeing Study, it was found that 41% of UK workers surveyed are relying on at least one new loan, credit or overdraft facility but almost 60% of these people are doing so despite knowing they would struggle to make the repayments.
On the other hand, you also have people who have been largely untouched financially from the coronavirus pandemic and some have been 'accidentally saving' because they are unable to spend. Savings patterns have shifted from saving for a specific reason (e.g. for mortgage or holiday) to saving for a 'rainy day'. Now more than ever people need support and tools to become more financially resilient, however many don’t know where to start.
Around 80% of employers in a survey of 300 feel that people and businesses would gain from being more financially savvy but lacked the tools. They also acknowledged the negative impact this would have on their staff struggling with financial difficulties resulting in more stress, and thereby affecting the ability to do their work.
Financial stress can lead to more absenteeism and studies have shown that financially stressed employees lose 3 hours each week dealing with their money problems. The survey found that savings, debt management and retirement planning were the top three areas of advice employees would benefit from.
With this in mind, what can business do to support workers to help them become more financially resilient?
To gain a real advantage, employee wellbeing must be embedded in an organisation's culture, leadership and people management. Managers arguably play the most significant role for company organised well-being efforts, while senior leaders allocate resources and set the tone for the initiatives, managers are responsible for allowing their direct reports to take part in these initiatives. Ensuring good communication with managers can help build trust, make employees feel heard and valued as well increase overall employee engagement.
As simple as it sounds, the art of actively listening can really help employers identify what the employees want from their workplace. It can help address problems before they get out of control, you can get to know your employees better, and then tailor any workplace wellbeing initiatives to make them more relevant, it also creates a collaborative working environment which can lead to more idea sharing.
As well as listening, being recognised is one of the most desired and easiest wellbeing initiatives to implement. Many employees have gone above and beyond during these difficult times. A recent report by Work human showed 49% of those surveyed did not even receive a ‘thank you’ from their manager giving them a feeling of being undervalued.
So, what can organisations do to improve their communication practices to make employees feel heard?
Nurturing internal talent is one of the best ways to retain valuable knowledge for a firm and gives a greater ROI from employees. However, workers with low career wellbeing are more likely to be dissatisfied and unproductive at work, and ultimately could lead to organisations losing talent.
Research has shown that nearly 60% of employees say they lack career development with their employer, which would be enough to make them start looking for roles elsewhere. In addition, only a small percentage of managers actually felt comfortable talking about salary, aspirations, and promotions with their team.
For firms looking to prioritize their career development opportunities for employees, here are some things to consider:
Some more ideas can be found below:
Whether it’s finances, career, being heard or mental and physical wellness, it's clear that organisations must take greater steps towards employee wellbeing.
By fostering a culture that places importance on all aspects of employee wellbeing, firms will not only enhance their reputation as an employer but are also likely to benefit from long term financial success!
Hopefully this guide provides you some insight into why employee wellbeing is so important for your business, and the steps you can take to implement positive changes for your employees.