Our recent Coping after Covid report uncovers the state of employee wellbeing as the country prepares for the end of lockdown. While the reopening of the economy will signal opportunity – and relief – for many business leaders, they must not underestimate the impact of this turbulent year on employee wellbeing and mental health.
The challenges facing each industry are unique. Some have seen operations stripped back, with around six million employees still on furlough in February 2021. While homeworking has been adopted in many sectors, others have strived to create Covid secure workplaces or brought in new shift patterns and policies. In the coming months, employees will be looking to leadership teams for support as they begin to navigate the post-pandemic workplace.
Employee experiences: the widening gap
When it comes to new ways of working, our research suggests the workforce is divided. While 27% of employees are feeling more anxious about work, almost as many (24%) are feeling more productive. Almost half (46%) are proud that they’re still working, but 12% do not feel support by their employer.
It seems that the gap between those who are coping well and those who need extra support is widening, and employers will need to be vigilant to the needs of their people as working conditions continue to change.
Experiences also differ significantly across sectors. Manufacturing has the most employees worried about workplace safety, with 59% feeling that more could be done to make their workplace Covid secure. Employees in health and care report the worst mental health – 56% say theirs is ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’. In professional services, the workforce is split down the middle, with exactly 50% reporting that their work-life balance is still normal.
The end of lockdown brings new challenges
As businesses look to the future, employees and employers will start to consider the positives and negatives of their new ways of working. This presents leaders with an opportunity to reflect on and reinvent their wellbeing strategies, making improvements based on employee feedback.
Whether it’s balancing remote work and office days, making the workplace safer or switching to flexitime, each individual will have their own preferences and priorities. Our survey found that 28% of employees are looking to make long-term changes to the way they work, and employers who can provide support and stability throughout this challenging time will see their people emerge stronger.
Workplace culture change must be steered by feedback and engagement. While employees may be keen to get back to ‘normal’, what exactly is it that they value about their old ways of working? And what elements of the ‘new’ normal would they like to include?
After a year of constant change, consistency and certainty will be a top priority for many. Leaders who support their people through the coming months with an open mind and shared vision will set themselves up to thrive in the post-pandemic world.
For more in-depth advice on guiding your people to better wellbeing, download our free report: Coping after Covid: Recovering the hidden cost of the pandemic.