Never before have the lines between work and home been so blurred as in 2020/21. As people have been forced to shift into remote working, anxiety and stress have reached new levels. Staying home while trying to juggle work, childcare, schooling, along with unpredictable finances has taken its toll on working families. Mental health has become one of the biggest challenges for employees and employers to manage within the continuously evolving work dynamic. Over 75% of employees believe Employers should do more to help protect the mental health of their workforce. Organizations are realizing that they must address all aspects of employee health, including stress and anxiety, to avoid a decline in productivity and prevent work burnout.
From a positive perspective, the pandemic has brought to life conversations around mental health that weren’t necessarily in the spotlight before. So, what role should organizations play in employee wellbeing? We are going to take a light-hearted look at what employers should not to do. To highlight what the essentials of an employee wellbeing programme should actually look like.
- Develop a world-class wellness programme and deliver it fully packaged for your lucky employees. Sounds ideal, doesn’t it? How could creating a H&W programme designed for your staff possibly go wrong? Well, the issue is that Health and Wellness is personal. In their seminal study entitled ‘Is Work Good For Your Health and Wellbeing’ Wadell & Burton (2006) consider wellbeing to be subjective. So that when applied to the workplace, it is the employees’ own views on their wellbeing that should prevail. All workplaces are different and so all effective wellbeing plans will be different for all workplaces. Its key that you include and listen to employees when you begin to build any H&W strategy for it to be useful for your employees.
- Talk regularly to your employees about their H&W face to face. Now of course it is good to talk regularly, but could there be another more appealing way to support employees H&W? In an AI at work study (2020) Oracle found that more than 68% of employees would prefer to talk to a robot about stress and anxiety at work than talk to their manager and 82% believe robots can better support their mental health than people. People have grown more confident that technology innovations can help them in exciting new ways. But it also reflects that there is still a stigma around discussing mental health at work. Embracing AI could be the way to ensure employees are supported through any challenges, without them feeling they will be judged.
- Stick with the plan. Fail to plan, plan to fail right? Well wrong when it comes to employee H&W. Any programme you develop should be revisited on a regular basis, at least annually. This should take the form of agreed metrics on how employees view their H&W and crucially what they would like to see change. That way the programme can evolved and improve as the workplace evolved and employees needs evolve. A H&W programme supported and managed by employees is the gold standard to ensure that employees always have a voice.
In summary now more than ever a strong H&W programme is essential and indeed expected from your staff. If you ensure that people are included in the design and running of the plan and be open to change and new ideas about how you deliver a H&W programme then you won’t go far wrong.
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