Supporting employee health and wellbeing during good times and bad

Employees are facing burnout on an unprecedented scale

Supporting employee health and wellbeing during good times and bad

by Luke Amundson, Director, Peakon, a Workday company

More than 85% of employees around the world report a decline in their overall wellbeing since the start of the pandemic, according to a recent Harvard Business Review survey. Many cite a decline in their mental health, loss of connection with others, and increased work demands. 

But for some people, there were positives to come from this time. Some employees enjoyed greater freedom and flexibility in their work, and as a result we saw engagement improve in the first half of 2020. This is contrary to what you would expect when you add stress and change to peoples’ work lives.

However, after more than a year of turbulence and uncertainty, growing numbers of employees are experiencing burnout. That’s why it is essential that organisations continue to focus on health and wellbeing throughout 2021 and beyond.

The question now for many organisational leaders is what they can do to support the health and wellbeing of their people, whether they’re working from home, out in the field, or providing services to the public.

Listen To Your Employees

The first step is to understand what your employees need, which means asking for feedback. Why? That feedback often reveals crucial insights on your employees’ mental, physical, and financial health.

The latest report from Peakon, a Workday company – Employee Expectations Report 2021 – unearths insights from 30 million employee comments. The report found that mental health and financial wellbeing dominated the employee conversation in 2020, comprising over 75% of global employee wellbeing comments. Comments referencing financial wellbeing outstripped mental health at the start of the year. But as the pandemic spread, so did the number of employees talking about mental health.

Act On Feedback

The real value of feedback is taking meaningful action. If employees are working longer hours because they spend too much time in meetings, you could limit all meetings to half an hour, or introduce a policy that specifies one meeting-free day each week.

Policies need to be accessible too, whether that’s making them available on the company intranet or in a shared folder that everyone can access. They also need to be communicated with clearly signalled permission from managers and senior leaders. When you introduce a new policy, announce it to the whole company, make sure everyone knows where to find it, and encourage them to use it.

Over time, employees will see that their feedback results in tangible outcomes, leading to more open and honest feedback that your organisation can use to drive higher levels of engagement.

Model Healthy Behaviours

Policies alone aren’t enough to improve employee health and wellbeing.

You may have introduced an unlimited holiday policy, for example, so that employees can take time off whenever they need to prioritise their mental health. However, this will be much more effective when managers and senior leaders set an example by also taking paid time off. You can’t beat new initiatives being championed and role modelled by business leaders. Employees are much more likely to make use of the policy when they don’t have to worry about how it will be perceived by leadership.

Make It Part Of Your Culture

The values of your organisation help to shape the way people behave.

To support the ongoing health and wellbeing of your people, organisational values need to reflect the kinds of behaviours that support good mental, physical, and financial health. Employees are less likely to raise concerns about their workload if one of your values is “always hustle harder,” for example.

Once your values are defined, it’s important to regularly communicate them to the business. As employees become more familiar with your values, and see them modelled in the way people act throughout the organisation, they will begin to embody those same values.

When it comes to employee health and wellbeing, prevention will always be more effective than a cure. As a result of the pandemic, many organisations must address the needs of those already on the verge of burnout, but to ensure their future success, employee health and wellbeing needs to be woven into the fabric of their organisational culture.

To learn more and help every employee drive they change their want to see, visit and start listening today.

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