Posted By Westfield Health

Posted on19th July 2021

In our latest report, The Future of Work, we asked 1,500 people about their return-to-work worries and what their employer could do to make the transition easier.

The retail, leisure and hospitality sectors have been some of the hardest hit, with many employees on furlough throughout the pandemic. Others may have been working reduced hours as their employer adapts to changing guidance on capacity limits.

While employees these sectors have been returning to work over the past few months, the end of the mask mandate and social distancing guidelines will change their work environment yet again. With restrictions coming to an end, how can employers in these sectors ensure their people are supported in the new normal?

Flexible working options may be limited

The remote and flexible working policies enjoyed by office workers are unlikely to translate into similar perks for those in the retail, hospitality or leisure industries, where the majority of employees are required to be on-site or customer facing.

Our survey confirms that options for remote work are limited across these sectors. Only 20% of retail employees and 25% of those in arts, leisure and culture have the option to work from home – the two lowest of all sectors.

While remote working has helped to engage employees in other areas of the economy – 43% of those who’ve been working from home feel they’re more engaged thanks to their employer’s approach – those who’ve been on furlough are far less likely to feel positive (19%). In fact, over a fifth of employees in these sectors say they’re unhappy with their employer’s approach to flexible working.

If flexible working truly isn’t possible, business leaders must focus on alternative ways to boost their people’s wellbeing and help them to re-engage with the workplace.

Employees in these sectors are looking for more support

Across all sectors, employees are requesting additional workplace wellbeing support, but those most impacted by Covid-19 restrictions are more likely to need assistance. Almost three quarters (72%) of employees in arts, leisure and culture say they want more wellbeing support from their employer, second only to the financial services sector.

In terms of where to focus first, mental health support is the most requested wellbeing initiative by employees in these hard-hit sectors. It was by far the top priority in the arts, leisure and culture sectors, with 42% of people requesting support from their employer in this area. Retail workers were the second most likely to want mental health support, with 33% in this sector saying it would help them with the return to normal.

Only 20% of retail employers and 22% in arts, leisure and culture have policies in place to support their people’s wellbeing, compared to 46% in the healthcare sector. This suggests there’s an opportunity for businesses to introduce a wellbeing strategy to help guide their workforce through this crucial moment of reopening.

The best wellbeing support is tailored to your people and their individual needs. Our resources, webinars and free downloads help you to get started with wellbeing or improve your existing strategy.

The Future of Work report – Our latest research into what employees need to thrive in the new normal.

Health and wellbeing toolkit – A free guide to wellbeing strategy for HR teams.

Coping with Covid – A detailed look at the mental health impact of the pandemic, including practical tips for managers.

Wellbeing webinars – On topics including thriving in the new normal and emotional resilience.

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