What to prioritise in the post-covid workplace to ensure a happier workforce

As we near the end of the first quarter of 2022, employers face challenges - everything from Brexit and rising energy costs to the continuing effects of COVID, no sector or business seems to have escaped the impact.

As we near the end of the first quarter of 2022, employers face challenges – everything from Brexit and rising energy costs to the continuing effects of COVID, no sector or business seems to have escaped the impact. But what is essential during these times are your staff. It’s vital that they feel supported, and the importance of a workplace wellbeing strategy has never been more critical.

Our research shows that the last two years have been tough on everyone, not least of which office workers who have experienced tremendous change to their environments and have had to adapt to new changes in how they work – often with little notice.

Worryingly, our survey found that over 50% of workers claim that the business they work for needs to do more to support workplace wellbeing. But what does it mean in practical terms for employers – what do they need to do to implement a better strategy for their staff?

What is workplace wellness?

It might be a new buzzword, but it’s not a trend that will be going away. So, what do we mean when we talk about workplace wellness?

Well, workplace wellness is described as “any workplace health promotion activity or policy designed to support employees’ healthy behaviour to improve health outcomes”. It is also known as corporate wellbeing and can often include onsite fitness programmes and healthy food options.

But more and more companies are understanding the benefits of supporting wellness and are now looking at what else their employees need addressing, including mental health concerns and flexible or hybrid working options.

The importance of workplace wellbeing

Promoting wellbeing can help prevent stress and create a positive working environment to enable both the individual and the organisation to succeed. Promoting employee wellbeing can deliver mutual benefits for all, and healthy workplaces will help people succeed and reach their potential. But it is essential to realise that engaging your workforce and giving them the benefits that they need is critical – and can’t be just a box-ticking exercise.

Investing in employee wellbeing can increase resilience, better engagement, reduced sickness, and higher performance. Research from Deloitte says that poor mental health can cost UK employers up to £45billion per year. Statistics show that for every £1 spent on supporting employee’s wellbeing, employers get back £5 in reduced presenteeism, absenteeism and staff turnover.

What can businesses do to support staff wellbeing?

While businesses have had to adapt to Government advice over the last two years to, results from our survey suggest that businesses need to step up and do more to support staff wellbeing, but it can be challenging to know where to begin and what is important your staff.

Hybrid working isn’t going away

Whilst working from home became central to the working week for many – our research has shown that workers are ready to get back to a sense of ‘normality’, with 95% wanting to shift away from solely working from home and the majority (82%) happy to be heading back into the office for a minimum at least 2 days a week.

For office based-workers, the office is much more than just a place of work and is an essential factor in achieving work-life balance. Our research has shown the negative impact homeworking is having on the lives of employees, with increased screen time and longer hours (45%), feeling disconnected from our colleagues (44%), and increased difficulty in switching off at the end of the day (32%) amongst the most significant concerns.

Research shows that flexible working is still important to staff

Wellbeing isn’t just meditation and mindfulness – it’s about making sure that your team have the right tools to carry out their jobs. Our research revealed the top areas where employees want support to improve their workplace wellbeing:

  1. Flexible working policy, e.g., Flexitime, implementation of core office-based hours
  2. Allowing remote working or part remote working
  3. Adaptations to the working environment in the office for comfort purposes, e.g., break out areas, quiet areas, standing desks
  4. A more significant number of holiday days and flexibility on holiday allowances
  5. Providing greater access to mental health support, e.g., coaching, one-to-one sessions, talking therapies
  6. Providing greater access to physical health support, e.g., regular movement time/desk breaks, gym incentives, healthy snacks
  7. An emphasis on creating a positive workplace culture
  8. Greater focus on at-work socialisation and social events with colleagues
  9. Adaptations to the working environment for aesthetic purposes, e.g., pleasing decoration of the office, greenery being introduced into the office
  10. Comprehensive health insurance

Interested in finding out more about the future of workplace wellbeing, and how you can better support your staff? Discover the full results of our survey and a plethora of tips and advice from a wellbeing expert, Khalil Renner, in the Birchwood Park Workplace Wellbeing Handbook

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