The Focus On Wellbeing In The Age of Covid
In the Chinese calendar, 2021 marks the Year of the Ox. Appropriately, the Ox represents a strong work ethic coupled with honesty and positivity. Much like the humble Ox, many of us have been working under stressful, challenging conditions in lockdown, without the usual structure or support of an office environment and face-to-face interaction.
It can therefore be no surprise that we’re starting to see the repercussions of this unfold, along with the rise of health and wellbeing at work programmes in response to it.
The Knock-On Effect
Findings by mental health charity Mind reveal that more than half of adults (60 per cent) found their mental health decline during lockdown. Furthermore, in-depth analysis by the CIPD uncovered a number of specific issues relating to workplace worries, some of these materialised as:
- Lack of adequate information about returning to work
- Concerns around workplace health and safety measures
- Job and financial security
- Workload and work-life balance
- Physical and mental health
So what can we do about the growing issues around wellbeing, when a whole generation of workers have been affected?
First of all as HR professionals, we need to understand that wellbeing issues materialising from Covid can be quite varied. From concerns around safe commuting, to juggling work with home-schooling, and the anxiety of job security to name a few. There’s a range of diverse and broad issues that employees are facing. The main challenge we now face is the line between home life and personal life – a line that has been blurred, and with it the responsibility of ‘duty of care’. This means that employers will need to extend their wellbeing policies to go way beyond a basic offering.
A helpful way to identify these issues is through an employee wellbeing survey, or by reviewing health and wellbeing at work ideas that can be put into practice. Let’s take a look at some of these…
Taking the Temperature with Pulse Surveys
In the age of remote working, pulse surveys have proven an efficient and easy way to capture employee feedback to act upon.
The practice involves frequently ‘taking the temperature’ of the work environment by asking for quick and regular feedback from colleagues. This allows HR professionals to monitor and anticipate any issues, allowing them to be dealt with in a timely fashion. Pulse surveys have grown in popularity, least of all because they are easy to conduct, but also provide a helpful overview of the workplace, remote or otherwise.
Staff training and wellbeing at work courses have always played an important role in personal development. This remains as important in 2021, perhaps even more so. With new legislation and safety policies in place, it’s essential that colleagues are kept up to date, along with their skill set. Investing in training, especially health and safety procedures is just one of the main HR trends anticipated in a recent ‘State of Learning’ report by our partners at GO1.
Auditing your Corporate Handbook
It may be timely to review your corporate handbook. This means examining the current practices in place and reviewing whether they still serve colleagues needs, or whether they need to be updated, amended or reviewed. Many organisations, including the Bank of Ireland, 3M and Grammarly are some of the corporates responding to the crisis by creating wellness programmes around them. HR Review revealed that 35 per cent of corporates are spending more on wellbeing practices – a trend we are likely to see more of.
As the Year of the Ox gives us new hope for an end to the pandemic, many employees will continue to struggle with wellbeing in the many forms it presents itself. Key to this is communication and regular check-in’s with teams, to understand the state of the organisation and ensure needs are being met.
We look at the Five Business Trends that 2021 has in store for HR Professionals.
Download the Employee Pulse Survey HR Playbook and get an insightful and actionable approach, including a framework for designing and implementing pulse programmes in your organisation.
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