Why nurturing employee wellbeing is critical to developing workplace resilience
There are some things that simply bind us all together irrespective of age, geography or background. One of those is mental health. Some days it’s good, others it’s bad and events of the last couple of years have brought it to the forefront of the national agenda fostering support from everyone from HRH Prince William to musician Will. I. am.
The toll on mental health has been particularly prevalent in the workplace on account of major disruptions to how, when and where people work. So much so that it has driven many to question why they do the job they do. Consequently, it has forced businesses to prioritise employee wellbeing and mental health, while delivering a very clear learning – nurturing employee wellbeing is critical to developing workplace resilience.
An ever-evolving challenge
The prevalence of this issue can be demonstrated by the sheer abundance of data points a Google search on ‘employee wellbeing’ generates. Yet, for all the stats and figures, they all paint a similar picture. According to McKinsey, more than half of the populations of middle-and high-income countries are likely to suffer from at least one mental condition during their lifetime. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, some 42 percent of employees globally have reported a decline in mental health. In fact, 57% of employees are feeling greater anxiety since the outbreak of the pandemic, while 53% feel more emotionally exhausted. According to IOSH, 18 million working days are lost in UK due to mental ill-health.
But for businesses, that’s only part of the issue. The pandemic has shown us the art of the possible when it comes to remote working, flexible hours and virtual teams. Reverting back to type – for most – is simply not an option. Westfield Health’s 2021 survey showed that a quarter of employees felt more productive working from home. No surprise then that British business leaders consider flexible working to be more important for employee engagement and wellbeing than salary. Of 54 UK-based board-level executives polled for Bupa Global, 43% said flexible working was the most important factor for engaging staff and looking after their wellbeing, compared with 35% who chose competitive remuneration.
What this tells us is that managing employee wellbeing is an ever-evolving challenge with high steaks for getting it wrong.
Wellbeing pain points
There are businesses and even entire sectors where employees are currently at breaking point – health and social care being the leading example. The high-pressure working environment, combined with any number of external factors ranging from; fear of job loss, health, loss of loved ones or even the rate of inflation, is taking its toll to the point where conditions such as burnout and poor mental health are hurting employees and businesses.
Feelings of stress and worry are causing sleepless nights, which can lead to poorer performance at work and affect relationships with colleagues. This can also result in greater levels of absenteeism, which places extra stress on other staff and the cycle goes on. Research by Aegon found poor financial wellbeing costs UK employers £1.56bn every year through high levels of absence and a lack of productivity. It’s the driving force behind the great resignation movement currently underway – something the Evening Standard recently ran a feature on.
The war for talent is raging
At the end of the day, we’re all humans. We want to be happy, valued, rewarded and well-remunerated in our work. Businesses that support employees in achieving this are the trailblazers for others to follow because, at a time when the war for talent is raging, the impact is huge. Employees are less likely to move because they feel safe and secure in their environment so teams remain cohesive. This has a knock-on impact on culture, investment into talent, and recruitment. Having a workforce that is engaged, informed, supported and efficient helps increase productivity and can help to improve staff retention, reduce costs, and provide benefits in other ways.
It’s a virtuous circle. If employees can see their employers supporting them, they will feel more valued and by understanding their issues employers will go a long way towards building trust with their employees. Yet, while the need to address and support employee wellbeing is clear, no two individuals are the same. Personalising care at such a micro level requires businesses to get on the front foot, embrace proactivity and break established status quos.
Addressing the issue of employee wellbeing
That’s exactly why we designed our Employee Wellbeing tool. It helps HR departments assess an employee’s overall wellbeing proactively and routinely – before they become big issues – to ensure employees have the best experience and are happy, engaged and high performing. It works by driving actionable data to proactively monitor employee sentiment while using predictive analytics to detect employee warning signals – which can be dealt with before they become major or institutionalised issues.
It is integrated with a tailored skills catalogue and links to job roles to provide employees with visibility of vacancies with suitability for different career paths. As well as supporting employees, it provides a proactive and preventive approach to mental health in the workplace. But, of course, this is just one of a number of tools available to businesses. Innovators are developing new ways to bring mental health and wellness tools right to the user’s fingertips. From virtual therapists to motivational applications, companies are finding solutions to address the issue of employee wellbeing.
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