Workplace wellbeing is an area of business that has sparked conversations during the pandemic.
While every company and individual has been impacted differently by the pandemic, new research by Bupa UK has revealed overall employee wellbeing and job satisfaction has decreased.
An analysis of Google search behavior found that people are increasingly looking for information and advice about negative work environments.
Over the last 18 months there has been a 357% increase in searches for ‘boreout’, an 89% increase in searches for ‘anxiety at work’ and an 83% increase in Google searches for ‘presenteeism’.
With so much change to our working lives over the past year, it’s no surprise workplace-related illnesses are on the rise.
Business leaders should be focusing on supporting the wellbeing of their employees as we look to the future. From access to healthcare, training and career development opportunities, there are lots of ways to promote a positive working environment.
Here are five initiatives businesses should consider to improve workplace wellbeing.
1. Embrace technology
We have all heavily relied on technology over the past year and this is something businesses should continue to embrace.
Increased roll out of virtual communication platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Slack across many businesses during the last 18 months has made it easier to facilitate remote working and opened up new communication channels, as well as helping employees and business leaders alike to work collaboratively while away from the office.
Technology has also made it easier for employees to access healthcare through online appointments.
Almost half (46%) of the UK workforce believe wellbeing support services offered by their employer have improved over the past 12 months.
Remote health appointments have helped to remove barriers to healthcare – for example, you no longer need to take time off to see your GP as it can all be done through a smartphone.
Remote healthcare services have been hugely beneficial to employees of the last 18 months, and our research found that almost one in five employees would like to see their availability increase over the next year.
As we look forward, employers should look to follow a health-first approach to people management, ensuring employees have access to both mental and physical health support services – both in person and remotely.
2. Health and wellbeing initiatives
Supporting employee wellbeing and promoting a positive work environment helps to reduce work related illness such as, stress and presenteeism. It can also help create an engaged and productive workforce.
Wellbeing initiatives can be fostered in many ways, for example already mentioned providing access to health and wellbeing services, encouraging employees to take the time off they need to recover when they are ill – this will help to fight the effects of presenteeism.
Other examples include training employees on new technologies or work systems – as a result, employees will feel supported and a sense of job satisfaction, supporting workers to make good life choices, such as by encouraging employees to make use of a lunch hour to step away from their desk. You could also provide healthy snacks and meals within your office to promote eating a balanced diet.
Finally, employers can encourage staff to spread their annual leave throughout the year to allow time to switch off from work – this will help to reduce the effects of burnout and ‘boreout’.
3. Career development
New research by Bupa has revealed employees are actively searching for career progression opportunities; there has been a 60% increase in Google searches for ‘career development plan’ and 55% increase in Google searches for ‘job progression’.
Employers should look to coach and develop their team’s skillset, building on each employee’s individual strengths so they can reach their potential.
For example, as a manager, you can put a member of your team forward to attend a learning session or industry networking event. As a result, businesses will benefit from a talented, resilient, and motivated workforce.
Technology can support businesses with by encouraging their employees to develop their skill set.
Companies can do this through running online workshops with different departments across the business such as HR teams, or providing access to online training tools which can help their employees to build their skills from the comfort from their desk.
4. Create support networks
Connecting with like-minded colleagues can help employees to feel supported, valued, and understood in the workplace.
Technology is a great way to connect with others easily – especially if there is distance and can support the creation of employee networks.
Online portals or social channels where employees share their experiences, values, and interests, as well as any work projects with others is one way businesses can create support networks.
Similarly, digital safe spaces and events to celebrate awareness days, weeks and months are all ways employers can become involved with creating an inclusive and supportive workplace.
There are lots of tools that can be used to create support networks, similar to those mentioned above.
For example, creating group conversations or forums on platforms such as Microsoft Teams or Slack. Communication channels can also be used to schedule monthly or quarterly catchups with employees from across your business – even if they are in different time zones.
5. Consider the needs of the individual
A wellbeing initiative that may work for one employee may not work for another – this is because we are all different.
Often when employee wellbeing programs experience low levels of engagement, it is because employees do not see them as relevant to their needs or concerns.
Technology can allow for a more personalized approach to health and wellbeing.
For example, one employee may suffer high levels of stress and may benefit from meditation or relaxation resources. Whilst improving overall physical health increasing fitness levels may be a priority for another.
Different types of technology can be used to provide employees with useful wellbeing resources. For example, access to apps for mediation, mindfulness, or at home workouts.
Similarly, online work portals can be used to share any upcoming health and wellbeing sessions or webinars, as well as direct employees to the various forms of support available.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to employee wellbeing. Talk to your employees about wellbeing programs they find useful or any particular areas of workplace wellbeing they would like to see improved.
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