Between 2019 & 2020, Google searches for ‘wellbeing at work’ increased by 50% and by the same amount again in 2021. Over the same period searches for ‘burnout at work’ increased 40%. The workplace is changing and so is its impact on people.
How remote working affects productivity
With many companies being initially reluctant to embrace flexible working, the pandemic has shown that it can bring benefits such as an increase in employee productivity. On average, some 60% of employees are expected to now work from home (WFH) either full time or part time - compared to less than 30% pre-pandemic.
A study by Catalyst concluded access to remote work increases employee well-being, productivity, innovation, and inclusion. It increases innovation by 63%, work engagement by 75% and organisational commitment by 68%.
However, the benefits are not consistent and can create new challenges, with an impact on wellbeing and mental health.
Challenges for workers
Whilst the majority believe flexible working has been positive for their wellbeing, according to CIPD 44% of workers have experienced increased stress or mental health issues as a result of working from home.
There have been impacts on the working day with the average lunch break shortening to 29 minutes, versus over 40 minutes pre- pandemic and the average length of time an employee working from home is logged on at their computer has increased by more than two hours a day, according to NordVPN Teams.
Employees are also feeling the pressure to demonstrate their output, with 30% of hybrid workers feeling under pressure to respond more quickly or ‘show they were working’ to prevent accusations they were slacking or being lazy.
So whilst remote or hybrid working is clearly what employees want, what is clear is that companies need to make sure they are creating working structures, policies and interventions to ensure employee wellbeing.
The effect on company loyalty
The ‘Great Resignation’ has been something many companies have, or are still, experiencing, and employer loyalty is low. Not only is it easy for employees to interview whilst working remotely, but it is harder for companies to maintain company culture and team engagement whilst dealing with a mixture of working patterns and locations.
In a survey by WorkNest HR, senior managers were most likely to cite keeping staff happy as one of the top three business challenges (15%), followed by increasing staff turnover (13%) and involving those who work from home (11%).
However, nearly 60% of employees said that supportive management can improve retention. With a manager that prioritises mental health more highly ranked by employees than both a strong office culture and mentorship. Showing it is more important than ever that companies find a way of engaging employees, encouraging team engagement and supporting their staff with their wellbeing and mental health.
Implementing workplace wellbeing
Workplace wellbeing is important for both individuals and organisations. Focusing on this can help to prevent burnout, retain employees and enhance productivity.
According to the CIPD, 72% of organisations are providing new or better support for people working from home. For example, nearly half (47%) are encouraging more responsible use of digital technologies, acknowledging that regular movement breaks and time away from screens are essential for health and wellbeing.
But whilst progress is being made, 52% of all employees report burnout, and less than 20% of them are using the company benefits they believe are most helpful for mental health. This could be because they are not aware what is available, they are unappealing, complicated or they simply lack the support they need to get started.
So how do you create a wellbeing solution that actually works? We believe that following the pillars of wellbeing is a great place to start.
The main pillars of wellbeing
Physical Wellbeing Being active is not only great for your physical health and fitness, it improves your wellbeing by raising your self-esteem, minimising your risk of illness or disease and boosting your mood.
Emotional Wellbeing Emotional wellbeing is all about how we feel. It’s about being emotionally and psychologically healthy, able to enjoy our lives and feel a sense of meaning and purpose.
Social Wellbeing Good relationships are important for your wellbeing. They can help you to build a sense of belonging and self-worth, give you an opportunity to share positive experiences and provide emotional support.
Lifestyle Wellbeing Which often refers to learning. Continued learning enhances self-esteem, gives you a sense of purpose, encourages social interaction and a more active life.
Financial Wellbeing To feel as though you have enough money to live adequately, feel secure, in control and free to make your own financial decisions.
How to get employees involved
Several clients have expressed frustration that employees tell them in surveys they want ‘wellbeing’ provision, but often what is offered is then not used or is ‘not right’. But it’s about empowering individuals to use the tools in the way that works for them – it won’t be the same for everyone. The key factors to encourage engagement are: Make it fun, make it accessible, motivate people and set a good example from leadership.
Leaders need to not just talk about wellbeing, they need to show it with their actions too. If they never take lunch and send emails in the evening, then they are sending the signal for employees to do the same. The same goes for wellbeing, if the leadership team are actively involved, then it gives everyone permission to do the same without the guilt factor. All employees seem to agree that any intervention which is available during company time and also has strong management buy-in, are ones that show the company actually cares about them.
“I’ve seen and heard of a lot of wellbeing programmes. Most fail. The three key ingredients are: Enable, Model, Nudge. Basically, create an environment for people to thrive; make sure the leadership models this; and provide nudges on a regular basis. That’s what works.” Nigel Marsh, Bestselling author, performance coach, 5 million + TED Talk
If you would like to read more insights and stats on this topic, then download our free white paper which looks in more depth at the highs and lows of remote working, the impact on mental health and ways to support your staff.