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  • Gemma Burke

Are you considering the wellbeing of your workforce during the pandemic?

With latest studies suggesting only 20% of employees felt their wellbeing needs are being met, we wanted to focus on some of the more positive things you can and should be doing over the next few months.

Typically, many organisations plan their wellbeing initiatives at the end of the year and promote those in January. New year, new you – a cliché term many of us have heard but feeds into psychology of January being a time when we start to focus on our own wellbeing and make this a priority. Many of the 2020 wellbeing plans, went out of the window when the Covid-19 pandemic hit in the spring.

For many of us, we focused on the health and safety of employees, moved from an office to remote environment and juggled the pressures of cost savings when revenues dropped. For the majority, actions were implemented quickly and changes, many of which are positive such as flexible working, put into place.

As we start to see firms move back towards normal business, we are also planning for what winter may look like. Will there be another lockdown? Will we need to make more changes? Will jobs be secure? Statistics are already showing unemployment is the highest it has been in 2 years. So now, more than ever, wellbeing of your workforce should be a key priority.

The silent impact of this pandemic is on mental health, months of lockdown, instability and insecurity, high unemployment and changes to every structure of society as we knew it. The world and workplace are both looking very different and is everyone ready for this?

As an employer, what should you be doing to support your workforce now and in the future? We have some top tips to help guide you:

· Ensure the basics are in place, is there somewhere or someone people can talk to? Are you checking in on your workforce and receiving feedback? Having some forum to do this will allow people to have a voice and share concerns. It might also raise items you hadn’t have thought of. It’s important that in an uncertain time like this, communication is regular, clear and inclusive.

· Review your benefit providers, many will be offering mental health and wellbeing support. Do you have an Employee Assistance Programme or Private Medical Insurance? Many providers offer counselling, confidential advice and many other tools to your workforce. Utilise what you have and promote it! It is easy to forget what is on offer until you need it.

· Yes, practices and policies are there but flexibility is key – the workplace isn’t normal so issues may come up where a policy needs to be tweaked slightly and judgement needs to be given.

· Flexible working is great, but not everyone will enjoy working at home all the time and will be missing the buzz of an office environment. Where practical, offer more than one option. One way shouldn’t fit all, show your workforce that you are adapting and offering multiple options as you understand everyone’s needs are different.

· Regular check-ins– catch-ups shouldn’t just focus on work but on wellbeing too; take time to ask how people are doing, what support they may need, and if they are feeling any different with all the changes going on. You have a duty of care to your employees, and you will need to take the first step when it comes to those who find it hard to raise their concerns.

· Engagement – in the absence of social teams, office parties, team get-togethers and other committees which may have been place, new and different engagement activities will be needed. As for volunteers, share success stories and tips with each other. Promote perks and benefits you may not have considered before like meditation and mindfulness.

Now is more important than ever as we head into typical sickness season. Get ahead of the curve and put wellbeing at the forefront of your plans.

If you wish to talk through implementing any new wellbeing initiatives or simply want to put some basics into place, drop us an email to see how we can assist –

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