Workplace wellbeing essential to retain and attract top talent

Business Insights

The effects of the pandemic are still being felt amongst the UK workforce. Following numerous lockdowns, the furlough scheme and ongoing global economic turbulence, people have understandably changed the way they think, feel and act towards their employment.

Whereas some employees are seeking higher salaries or benefits with their existing employer, others are considering switching jobs and even changing career paths altogether.

There is a growing demand for employers to invest in the overall wellbeing of their workers in order to retain and attract the best talent, as well as the more obvious benefits of reducing staff absenteeism and increasing overall productivity.

Workers looking elsewhere

Results of a UK employee survey in Q4 2021 revealed almost a quarter of UK workers were actively planning to change employers over the following months, with the majority of people citing burnout as their main reason for doing so.

Further research from CIPD has shown that in a normal week, over a third of workers feel their workload is too much, almost a quarter feel they don’t have enough time to complete their work in their allocated hours, and almost half have worked in their main job despite not feeling well enough to perform their duties – also known as presenteesim – in the last three months.

Regular communication between line managers and employees

Employers need to be aware of employees’ perceptions of their current workload and the impact this is having on their professional performance as well as their overall health and wellbeing. Regular employer-employee communications, comprising appraisals and discussions, can facilitate expectation management, build stronger relationships between colleagues and, perhaps most importantly, help workers feel supported by their managers.

Time to move away from traditional incentives

Traditional perks employers offer workers – dress-down Fridays, weekly fruit bowls, cycle to work schemes – are no longer as appealing to a population who have experienced a change in the nature and location of their work since the pandemic.

Now more than ever before, top UK talent are seeking employment opportunities that will support their professional goals as well as enable them to pursue their personal hobbies, interests and responsibilities and support a lifestyle which allows for a healthy balance of both the professional and personal.

Healthy work-life balance: finding flexibility

In a recent survey of working parents, almost three quarters of respondents said they would choose to apply for a new job advertised as flexible over one not.

Organisations not already implementing a flexible working policy should look to do so, however it is important to understand that flexible working has different meanings for different people. The most effective health and wellbeing strategies offer support to the potential challenges individuals may experience at different stages of their lives, such as caring responsibilities for children and elderly relatives, pregnancy loss or chronic health conditions.

Working from home

Working from home became the new norm for many during the pandemic with over a quarter of the UK population doing so in 2020. People have continued to work remotely either exclusively or via a hybrid model and, as many workers have reportedly been more productive working from home and have experienced reduced stress levels, employers would be wise to consider remote working as an option for all job roles that practically allow it.

Physical and mental health support and training

Managing employees’ health and safety whilst they are at work has long been the responsibility of their employer, yet taking this further and investing in employees’ overall wellbeing has far-reaching financial and operational benefits for businesses.

Health assessments conducted annually can raise any new or existing physical health issues which may otherwise go unnoticed, especially at a time when remote working is more prevalent and GP appointments are harder to come by.

Mental health training, particularly for line managers, has long been championed by HR professionals as a sound business investment. Work-related stress, anxiety or depression is the main reason for sickness absence in the UK; managers trained in being able to spot the signs of a distressed colleague and how to support them appropriately can help the individuals affected to feel supported and more motivated to remain in work.

All organisations and the people working for them are different; a tailored approach to workers’ health and wellbeing is an essential part of encouraging their job satisfaction, motivation and loyalty.

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