Remotely Healthy?

Remotely healthy?
research into wellbeing employees

It will come as no surprise that the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the mental health and wellbeing of many employees. But what specific challenges are employees facing, and what opportunities are there for employers who wish to support people more effectively? Hays has gathered global and regional data to find out.

Read time: 4 minutes | Published in Hays Journal 20

The challenges

During the pandemic, a lot of employers and employees are struggling with their mental health. Due to the lockdowns, social contacts are reduced radically, and many people struggle with feelings of loneliness. This applies to employees at all professional levels.

Research showed that no less than 32% of managers in Poland experienced a deterioration in mental health because of the pandemic. But mental health is not just a problem in Poland or only amongst managers. 37% of workers globally say the pandemic has negatively affected their mental health, with 42% saying their employer has not provided them with support.

These mental health problems can partly be resolved with wellness programmes, but not all organisations use them. Only 38% of respondents in China said their organisation has an employee wellness programme in place.

The good news

Despite the pandemic negatively affecting people’s mental health, it does seem like employees are starting to bounce back. Before the pandemic, 84% of employees in the US cited positive overall wellbeing. During the first few months of the pandemic, that number dropped to 66%, but has risen back to 70% today. Obviously, it is not at the same level yet, but it is a good sign that more people are starting to feel better.

This might partly be because employers are increasingly responding to mental health issues. According to our data from Australia and New Zealand, nearly three quarters of employers over there said that their organisation’s focus on mental health and wellbeing has increased to some extent since the Covid-19 outbreak. 51% of these employers also state that the mental health and wellbeing of their staff are one of their current priorities. Only protecting jobs is slightly more important to them, with 53% of organisations mentioning this as one their priorities.

When it comes to resilience to the challenges of the pandemic, it appears that in the US, workers are more resilient than their employers think they are. Our research shows that 28% of businesses in the US felt their employees had an increase in productivity, while in fact 45% of employees felt they had been more productive. And although only 20% of organisations felt their employees had an increase in morale, among employees 29% thought their morale had risen.

At Hays we know the importance of making a priority of employee wellbeing. Yvonne Smyth, Group Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion said the following about it: “Employee wellbeing has never been so business critical. Employers have a responsibility (and opportunity) to take time to understand the wellbeing needs of their employees. As they look beyond the pandemic, they must continue to keep employee wellbeing at the top of the agenda – starting with the design and implementation of proactive, inclusive, holistic wellbeing strategies which offers employees access to appropriate and relevant resources. Organisations must also encourage and empower their people to take responsibility for their own improved wellbeing."

Wellbeing employees - the opportunities

Besides all the challenges, Covid-19 also offers a few opportunities, like those for employers looking to attract and retain the best talent.

Our data shows that 71% of employees found that being part of an organisation that values employee wellbeing has become more important to them. Unfortunately, only 34% say their organisation is currently doing so, while 75% believe their organisation should. Here lies an opportunity for some organisations.

In Australia, we researched what employees exactly want from their employer when it comes to mental health and wellbeing, resulting in this top three.

  1. Transparent and regular communication
    55% of respondents think this should be a priority of employers. During the pandemic, organisations had to start communicating differently due to the large number of people suddenly having to work from home. Communicating well with your employees can be difficult when you do not see them in person every day, but it is essential to keeping your workers engaged and up to date with what is going on in the business.
  2. Listening to voices of all employees
    45% of employees want their voices and those of all their colleagues to be heard. These times are difficult, and everyone experiences them differently. As a result, it is important that leaders listen to how every single one of their employees feel and what they can bring to the table.
  3. Increased training and upskilling
    As already discussed, this pandemic created a lot of new challenges, and in order to overcome new challenges, employees need new skills. That is why 35% of workers believe their organisations should make a priority of providing them with more training and upskilling.
This article is published in Hays Journal 20.

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