Focusing on Employee Wellbeing

The spread of the Omicron variant across the UK and subsequent tighter Covid restrictions have led to more uncertainty for employers and their employees. After nearly two years of living and working against a backdrop of Covid, it’s almost inevitable that our wellbeing has suffered as a result, and this can have a significant impact on the workplace. In this article, Laura Findlay looks at how employers can focus on the wellbeing of their employees during difficult times.

Communicate company policies

The last two years have brought great uncertainty to the workplace. It’s important as an employer to communicate your company policies and up to date guidance in a clear, accessible and timely manner. As we all deal with a new Covid variant, employees may feel anxious and worried for their safety. Similarly, some may feel keen to return to the office – so it’s important to be clear on the guidance and manage expectations, so that everyone feels informed.

Firms have to make employees feel safe and ensure that the workspace remains Covid-free. Therefore, before employees head back to the office in 2022, dependent on the latest government guidance, your internal Human Resources team needs to take the appropriate time to speak to managers about any of the concerns employees may have. If you do not have internal HR, please feel free to speak to IHRS.  

Once you provide employees with all the processes you have in place, testing these before employees fully return will help reassure them that their safety and wellbeing remains a top priority.

Managers should aim to keep all employees informed and updated about what to expect if returning to the office.

Help employees manage symptoms of anxiety, stress or depression

Be aware that we have all gone through a significant change, and now we're asking employees to adapt yet again. As a result, anxiety could manifest as a series of uncomfortable symptoms.

If your people are experiencing anxiety, stress or depression, hold sessions (remotely, if necessary) on grounding techniques for them to use to help them cope.

An employee wellbeing programme can help your people manage stress and focus inward to feel calmer – with fitness videos, guided meditations or tips for better sleep, for example – aimed at improving mental health. IHRS can assist with all of the mentioned areas.

Make wellbeing a top priority for all

We are sure many people have climbed straight out of bed and logged onto work emails while still in their PJs at least once. Working from home during the pandemic has changed our regular, daily routine. For some, there will have been a loss of structure which can feel disorientating. Encourage your employees to take time in the morning for themselves (if possible) before jumping into work.

When working from home, it’s easy to let the lines between our personal and professional lives blur into one, working beyond our normal hours or feeling unable to switch off.

Remind employees to take a lunch break: it's imperative to take a real break during the day, rather than eating at the desk or not eating at all. Creating separation between work and home, wherever possible, is important in maintaining a healthy relationship with work responsibilities and avoiding burnout.

Open channels of communication are vital – particularly when staff are working remotely and at risk of going under the radar. Schedule regular catch-ups and check-in with employees. Encourage them to talk about any concerns they may have so potential issues can be dealt with before they can become a real problem.  

Remember that Covid-19 guidance differs across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland:

Speak to experts at IHRS for help with employee wellbeing. In addition, check out our LinkedIn page and website for regular updates. Let us do the heavy lifting for you.

About the author

Laura is a HR professional with 20 years’ experience with Financial Services, the majority of which has been within insurance. In her role with UKGI Group, Laura provides objective support to firms on employment law and HR issues. She uses her interpersonal skills and knowledge to work with firms to help them develop strong and resilient HR strategies and establish healthy organisational cultures. Laura’s clients receive personalised support with a real can-do approach.

Laura is an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). She holds a Diploma Professional Development Scheme.

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