It seems that the subject of employee wellbeing is not a trend, but here to stay. As employers deal with new ways of working and an ongoing pandemic, it is becoming increasingly important to provide a, perhaps for some unprecedented, culture of care in the workplace.
Consulting staff for meaningful change
Whether taking the form of flexible working or providing tools such as financial education, recent research conducted by Paydata for the UK Reward Management Survey suggests a rise in such initiatives. The data, collected from 278 HR professionals between March and May 2021, reveals that 89% of employers have adopted new wellbeing strategies, and that 80% of them used staff questionnaires and consultations to inform their decisions.
The results also highlight what the future may hold when it comes to how people work. With 84% of employees expecting flexible working to be more accessible, it would appear four out of five (81%) employers seem to be hitting the mark, as they plan to continue to offer the option of home working. In fact, 67% are making the return to the office a completely voluntary option for their team. That said, a fifth believe that over 90% of staff will return to the office by the end of this year.
This invigorated attitude to workplace wellbeing is perhaps no surprise, as it was recently reported that 86% of UK employers believe it to be a significant factor when it comes to employee experience. The recent study, conducted by global advisory firm Willis Towers Watson, also highlighted the fact that most companies surveyed (98%) believe enhancing staff experience will be a business priority over the next three years. That is compared to almost half that amount stating it was important pre-pandemic.
The right focus at the right time
The rise in happiness-focussed initiatives will be especially welcomed by younger members of the workforce. Deloitte’s 2021 Millennial and Generation Z Survey highlighted how the Covid-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on younger groups. Around a quarter of millennials and just over a fifth of Gen Z staff admitted to taking time off due to stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic.
The data, collated from 23,000 global participants also showed that half of all UK millennials and Gen Zs feel anxious most or all of the time. Specific concerns include worrying about home life and career longevity; 36% of millennials and 31% of Gen Zs were anxious about their families’ welfare, with 36% of Gen Zs and a third of millennials concerned about job prospects.
It is all too clear how strategies that focus on the mental health of employees need to be top of the agenda. Parents have needed to, and are still required to, juggle childcare with work amidst school or nursery closures and the need to self-isolate. Entry level staff and graduates are losing valuable face-time with their more experienced peers and managers. Older staff may now feel vulnerable and exposed in a busy office.
These are some of the challenges facing top decision-makers today. But the boom in enthusiasm for workplace wellbeing gives something to be optimistic about; that we will see real, meaningful change in the way employers look after their people.