Amid all of the upheaval of Covid-19, there are positives we can draw.
The pandemic has been the catalyst for many organisations to focus on employee health and wellbeing like never before.
With large scale furloughs, redundancies, reorganisations, uncertainty, and radical changes in many businesses, its not surprising that the time ahead of us will be an unsettling period for teams everywhere.
While many organisations can say that their employees have fared extraordinarily well given the recent circumstances, the potential impact the pandemic has had on employee wellbeing is yet to be seen.
Today, we look at the importance of workforce wellbeing in our ‘new normal‘ and how you can help your team handle the new way of working.
Finding a New Normal in Your Place of Work
The first considerations employers must make is in defining the new normal in your organisation – this is not a ‘one size fits all‘ approach: every business will be in different circumstances.
Think about what changes have occurred in your business since the onset of the pandemic – your company might have made only a few changes, or it might have changed significantly.
No matter where your organisation sits on this spectrum, going forward there will be an overarching theme of flexibility; a hybrid way of working, mixing old styles with the new.
The end of the office is not entirely with us yet, despite a move to more digitally-focused communications.
The post-Covid workplace will look different even for members of the same team; we have entered a truly personal era of working. What works for some employees will not suit others; personal adaptability is key.
Wellbeing and New Working Arrangements
The Institute for Employment Studies surveyed at the start of lockdown the impact of employee‘s working arrangements. They found that a fifth of employees had been working from home since before the enforced lockdown and that these employees were healthier and more content than their office-based counterparts.
What can we draw from these results?
This survey heavily suggests that remote work has some influence on employee health and wellbeing, but we must consider more than the results of this one study.
Many employees find it more challenging to work from home due to living arrangements, family circumstances and even technical issues.
Only last week I was chatting to one friend who was complaining that she had to share one desk at home with her partner on alternate days; on the days she drew the short straw, she was sitting on the bed with her laptop, multiple extension cables and her mobile phone paired to the Wi-Fi! This same individual has also been informed that her office won’t reopen until at least quarter two next year.
This is only one small example, to demonstrate how many individuals are working in less than ideal circumstances.
While it‘s true that the ‘new normal‘ will involve a lot more remote work, it is crucial to support individual employees with their own preferences and issues. Companies who have decided to eradicate their offices will have to take extra care to monitor if this begins to have a negative impact down the line.
Let‘s take a closer look at how working arrangements can contribute to positive, or negative company culture, and how this influences wellbeing.
The Importance of Company Culture on Workplace Wellbeing
With workplaces being so different now, in our new normal, it is essential to be mindful of the impact this could have on your company culture. A negative company culture created by distance within your team has the potential to affect employee wellbeing.
As mentioned earlier, some team members will be happy to work from home, but long-term remote working can create a sense of isolation and make the team feel both disconnected and disjointed.
The Modern Families Index found that 72% of workers bring work home in the evening or weekends, and 47% of workers report that work affects their ability to spend time with friends or family.
The risk of employees feeling overwhelmed by work when they have a diminished distinction between ‘work‘ and ‘home‘ is higher with full-time or increased remote working.
Remote working might seem like an ideal arrangement for some, but you must be aware of the potential effects on both individual members and your team as a whole.
Workforce Wellbeing: Simple Suggestions to Implement Positive Change
So when it comes to wellbeing, where do you start to make improvements? Consider implementing the following in your organisation to help employees maximise their wellbeing:
- Create and maintain an environment of openness and honesty in your organisation. This means everything from discussing the ‘wellbeing’ of the business in overview with your team to encouraging them to share if they are struggling, personally or professionally.
- Create a safe, healthy workplace. If employees are worried about the spread of coronavirus, ask yourself, are you doing everything you can to make them feel safe? This might include things like maintaining proper social distancing guidelines, leading by example with sterilisation and the wearing of face masks (if applicable)?
- Offer real benefits to support employee wellbeing. This could include gym memberships (if applicable), inter-team step counting competitions, health insurance or cycle schemes. The link between physical health and mental wellbeing is widely documented, and the consensus is that better physical health directly improves your mental wellbeing.
- Work with employees to create work schedules that work for both them and the organisation – if a schedule is needed at all! Some employees will want to work from home full-time, and some prefer the camaraderie of the office. Flexibility in your management style to accommodate different needs is key.
- Encourage personal and professional development. No matter how suited a person is to their role and their company when there is no sense of development in their everyday lives, it can impact negatively on wellbeing. Make sure each employee has a professional development plan that is regularly reviewed, and if you can offer personal development trainings or workshops (in-house or externally).
If it‘s taking a while for your team to settle into the new normal – this can be expected.
With many employees still on furlough, and the uncertainty surrounding many organisation‘s futures, employee wellbeing is at risk.
We offer leadership support specifically designed to improve wellbeing, including resilience, mindfulness, stress management, counselling and coaching, plus much more – click here to find out more.
P.S. If you would like help to develop positive wellbeing in your team, we can help. You can get in contact here.
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