Posted By Westfield Health

Posted on1st July 2020

The majority of the UK’s workforce has now spent nearly three months in lockdown. Businesses have had to adopt new ways of working, with people managing families, the fear of job security and a change in working environment.

The role of HR teams has become increasingly more important. Adapting to the “new normal” and managing the expectations of an entire workforce puts pressure on companies to protect their people.

In our latest piece of research, the Divided Together report, we asked people about their expectations of future workplace trends, including what they want from their employers.

Many employees have been keen to cut down the commute, want more wellbeing support from their employer and have greater expectations for the safeguarding of their overall health, with 35% saying they expect long-term changes to the way they work.

Employees want more time at home

Spending more time at home has left some seeking the same flexibility in the future.

Those currently working from home feel strongly about their new way of working, with 49% saying they want to maintain it and that it’s had a positive mental health boost, compared to the workplace average of 30%. People expect the future to hold more home-working (49%) and 28% will choose to work at home more often.

If your organisation has adapted well to a new virtual environment, consider offering the same flexibility to your people as workplaces reopen. Supporting preferred ways of working will increase your employee retention rate and position you as a caring employer.

Better work-life balance

The pandemic has seen people under increased pressures to bridge the divide between work and home life.

People said they will now choose roles that give better work-life balance (27%), with parents most likely to prioritise work-life balance in a role whilst being keen to try different types of work.

Work-life balance is paramount to employee wellbeing. To reduce the risk of burnout and absenteeism-related costs, consider adapting a flexible working policy.

Cutting down the commute

With most UK workforces at home, people have spent less time journeying to and from work.

Employees now anticipate less time travelling to work (39%) with 20% saying they’ll choose roles closer to home to cut commuting time. People currently working from home consider a shorter commute and continued working from home as important priorities.

Consider the roles in your organisation that can continue to operate from home, particularly those with a longer commute, to see how you might offer them the same flexibility in the future.

Workplace wellbeing has never been more important

Between working from home, being furloughed and juggling parenthood, workforces have seen an increase in poor mental health. As we start to physically reopen businesses, there’s an expectation to provide improved wellbeing support to employees in the “new world”.

Nearly 30% of workplaces said they want more mental health support from their employer, with a higher expectation (32%) amongst parents and those currently working from home. 28% wanted extra wellbeing support and 23% want more support with their physical health.

Having a healthy mind and body isn’t the only pressure on our employees, with some facing new financial pressures and questioning job security. Financial management support was considered a priority for some (17%), with the highest expectation in parents (21%).

Providing proactive health and wellbeing support to your employees reduces your costs in the long run and helps you to attract and retain the best talent in the industry. Consider whether your wellbeing strategy is future-proofed and accounts for your entire workforce to get back to productivity as quickly as possible.

Safeguarding your people

The global pandemic has put pressure on employers to protect physical employee health, particularly for those high risk and most vulnerable.

Workplaces have greater expectations of their employer to safeguard staff health (39%), with those furloughed expecting the most from employers (51%).

If you’re considering reopening your workplace over the coming months, be sure to check in with your most vulnerable employees. Allow them to voice their concerns whilst considering how you might adapt their ways of working with their safety at the forefront.

Less hotdesking and more digital collaboration

Over the past few months we’ve adapted to changes in how workplaces operate – but what will our ways of working look like in the future?

With office workers now using more and more digital tools to operate, 43% of workplaces expect an increase in the use of digital technology to collaborate and 22% see less hotdesking. Whilst social distancing measures have meant spending time apart, only 15% of people have said they will be more social at work on their return.

For more insight about how teams are feeling about heading back to work, take a look at the Divided Together report.

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