Employee Wellbeing in a Post-Pandemic World
One of the most positive developments in the modern world is the recognition of employee wellbeing, and its importance. Businesses are aware that not only are there clear productivity benefits by having good standards of wellbeing across their workforce but also that there is an imperative moral duty to ensure this.
Of course, even the most well-prepared of businesses would not have been expecting to have to deal with something on the scale of Covid-19. Everyone is now scrambling, whether they are operating in the entertainment, recreation, or hospitality sector. Companies will need to ask themselves: what are the main challenges facing my employees right now?
Resulting Effects on People Mental Health
In these unprecedented times, every part of life has been affected somehow, and work & business is no exception. Most have now temporarily or permanently closed when it comes to the workplace, with remote work now being seen as the standard. This was reinforced by Boris Johnson’s recent statements that put a halt to plans to get workers back in the office, switching back to a message of encouraging people to only go to work if it’s necessary. This, unsurprisingly, led to a significant increase in the number of people exclusively working from home — 21% to 24%. So how has this affected the mental wellbeing of employees?
Whilst this has obviously been a tough situation, there are some positives that workers have been taking from the situation. Namely, they have been enjoying their new Work from Home (WFH) lifestyle, at least as a temporary situation. Aided by a summer in the UK that was blessed with great weather, many employees jumped at the chance to avoid a daily commute, spend more time with friends & family, and brush up on their banana bread-making skills. This shift had been coming for quite some time, but perhaps not in such a dramatic fashion. In recent years, there had already been increasing calls to modify the working week by encouraging flexible working, reduced office hours, and the option to work remotely if and when needed. The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated this conversation. It’s not a completely rosy outlook, however. Such a rapid and dramatic transition brings its own issues. In addition, the winter season may hit especially hard for those who have been enjoying their WFH lifestyle over the summer. They will not enjoy the outdoors as much when the short days & long nights kick in.
It is also important to bear in mind the importance of workplace socialising, or lack thereof, following the rise of remote work. For many people, a large part of their socialising comes through work, either in the office or after work (pub, bar, restaurant etc.) Unable to access this, workers may find a significant impact on their mental health & personal wellbeing. In the new remote-working way of operating, Zoom & Teams video calls have replaced face-to-face interaction. This may not be preferred by all employees, who may also struggle with productivity due to communication issues within their team. This means that employers and businesses will have to think about how they can adapt to the working environment to offset the issues caused by fully remote working and improve the working situation for those struggling to cope. Not everyone is working from home, however.
The Workplace Dilemma
Many employees are unable to work remotely on either a part or full-time basis for a variety of reasons. This may be due to either the job requirements or the unsuitability of an employee’s home for working. This means that businesses will have to consider how to cater for these employees properly. These are employees, we must remember, who have been increasingly struggling with maintaining a positive level of mental wellbeing. According to the CIPD and Simply Health Health and Wellbeing Survey, 37% of respondents stated that stress-related absence had increased last year.
Indeed, work-related stress, depression or anxiety accounts for 44% of work-related ill health and 54% of working days lost, in 2018/19. Additionally, poor mental health at work can lead to increased staff turnover, reduced engagement and high ‘presenteeism’. What the evidence demonstrates, is that there is often a significant proportion of a business’ workforce who are struggling with their own mental health and personal wellbeing, and these numbers are highly likely to be greater following the recent outbreak of the Covid-19 outbreak.
It is clear that right now is a particularly challenging time for an employee spending the majority of the working week in the office. Many employers, who recognise this as a problem for both themselves and their employees, are asking themselves: what is the solution? There are three things that an employer should be doing as a response to the current challenges posed to the wellbeing of their employees:
- Raise awareness in the office of the importance of mental health, wellbeing & sleep
- Take special care to pay attention to any concerns over wellbeing when that subject is raised by an employee
- Be proactive in adapting the workplace in light of Covid-19 and the related measures, and to maximise employee wellbeing
How Can We Maximise Employee Wellbeing?
There are two main solutions: 1) They can offer a range of relevant perks and complimentary services and 2) They can redesign the office with a focus on employee health & wellbeing.
Traditionally, one of the main perks offered by any company to their workers was in the form of a gym membership — one of the recent examples of this was providing employees with access to ClassPass. In the current climate, however, this may not be a particularly feasible or welcome option. This means that employers will have to think a bit more creatively about what wellness perks they can offer. This could include:
- Discount on mental health/therapy programmes
- Cycle to Work Scheme
- An employee helpline
- Access to a variety of discounts via somewhere such as Perkbox — can use for gym or something
- Share/stock scheme if not in place already — help employees to feel more invested in the company during this trying time
When it comes to redesigning the office, there are a number of approaches that one can take. Opening up more ‘breakout’ areas, splitting the office into smaller but more sociable areas, and providing facilities such as showers, exercise equipment, and a wellness room are just a few examples and should all be explored. We delve into this in more depth here: Innovations & Flexibility — The new-look workplace. We’d love to hear your own thoughts & suggestions, too, on what changes you are making in the workplace.
At Pop & Rest, we are intimately aware of the challenges that employees face with maintaining a good level of personal wellbeing in & around the workplace. As this was already part of our mission statement, we feel that we are better positioned than the rest of the travel & hospitality industry to provide our own solutions to employees’ problems. Whether you are looking to stay for just 30 mins to 1 hour, or you need a place to crash whilst you are in town for a few days, we’ve got you covered.