As restrictions surrounding the coronavirus lockdown begin to be lifted, many businesses are starting the transition to a new form of normality. However, the world of work is not where we left it. The impact of Coronavirus means changing priorities with new and different pressures and ways of working.
In a recent interview Professor Dame Carol Black cautioned that post Covid-19, many people’s mental health will be fragile, and going back to work confidently asks a lot of employees. As a result, she anticipates presenteeism going up and productivity down, and suggested that companies take the opportunity to re-evaluate their wellbeing programmes to see what opportunities there are to do things differently – and better – and measure their effect.
This transitional period is certainly unchartered territory for all of us and many businesses may be feeling some trepidation as they strive to get things right for their people. One of the stepping stones you can put in place is to talk to your peers and share challenges, experiences, ideas and tips to support each other.
We recently hosted a ‘Return to Work’ webinar, for almost 150 HR and business professionals from across the UK, exploring reintegration plans and what these could look like for employers and their people. Vicky Walker, our Head of People and two senior HR professionals from very different businesses shared their own ideas and the approach they’ll be taking to get people safely back to work. There was also a Q&A session, and we’ve continued the conversation in the Workplace Wellbeing LinkedIn Group.
One theme that emerged very strongly is that communication is key. Keeping your employees fully in the loop is important, as is providing them with the opportunity to provide you with feedback and share their own concerns and anxieties.
Some people may be re-entering their physical workplace, some may be returning from a period of furlough, whilst others may be continuing to work at home. Each have been facing their own set of challenges, but our own Divided Together research shows that this prolonged period of uncertainty has had an impact on employees’ physical and mental health. Many of your employees may be concerned and anxious and will be looking to you to support their health and wellbeing.
Our research found that of employees surveyed:
- Half said their mental health has got worse and 29% want more mental health support from their employer
- A third think their physical health has got worse and 23% are looking for more help from companies
- 28% want more wellbeing support
So as Professor Dame Carol Black affirmed, now is the ideal time to review your wellbeing programme. Talk to your peers to share experiences and best practice; talk to your employees regularly and ask them what they need from you in order to feel safe and engaged and review how interventions can be delivered. Then dig out your wellbeing strategy to check if you’re meeting those needs and if there are indeed opportunities to do things differently – and better.