As employees struggle to cope with the effects of the pandemic, employers should rethink their well-being strategies.
By Marta Chmielowicz
Whether it’s the stress of juggling childcare and work or the pain of loneliness, COVID’s impact has taken a toll on employees’ mental health as well as physical health. Westfield Health’s Coping with COVID study set out to quantify that impact and how it affects the workplace. Results show many disruptions to employee well-being.
- Over a third (36%) of respondents say their mental health affects their productivity at least once a week.
- Employees report significantly lower morale, well-being, and productivity compared to HR leaders (35% versus 7%).
- Almost a quarter (24%) of the workforce is looking for extra well-being support from their employer in the coming months.
- Twenty-eight per cent of employees say they feel less engaged than this time last year.
- Twenty-six per cent of employees report feeling more anxious at work.
- In 2020, days off due to mental health increased by 10%.
With £14 billion lost to mental health days alone in the last year, employee well-being must become a priority for HR leaders. However, there is a worrying disconnect between leaders and their employees; whilst 81% of employers say the pandemic has increased their focus on well-being, a third of employees report poor mental health at their organisation. HR is also more optimistic about productivity levels; 40% said productivity is “very good”, whilst only 20% of employees agree.
The strong link between well-being and productivity is driving the topic up the corporate agenda. Well-being support is shown to improve performance, with 43% of organisations with a well-being programme rating their productivity as “very good” compared to only 18% of organisations without one. As a result, 81% of employers said they increased their well-being spend due to the pandemic and 36% plan to increase it even further in 2021.
However, whilst corporate well-being programmes are certainly important, managers should also step up and engage with employees on an individual level through regular wellness checks and one-on-one meetings. By developing genuine connections with employees, making resources available, and practicing empathetic leadership, managers can build trust and enhance well-being.