In June 2020, we heard from 150+ senior HR leaders when compiling our report, Covid-19 and the future of HR. Over 85% of respondents told us that employee wellbeing was more of a priority than ever before, but three months on, what positive action have we seen?
Have organisations been able to deliver on their commitment to wellbeing? What practical examples can we learn from? And who’s leading the way globally?
Setting the scene: 3 reasons employee wellbeing matters
1. The business case: there are numerous high-profile studies and some impressive stats demonstrating the financial impact of failing to look after your people. Deloitte’s 2020 UK Mental Health and Employers Report estimates that presenteeism - your employees not working at top performance because they are stressed or unwell - can cost businesses an average of £1,716 per year per employee in the public sector and an average of £1,652 per year per employee in the private sector.
2. Talent attraction and retention: the race for top talent is on. Hiring activities are beginning to ramp up and the calibre of talent out of work and looking for a role is soaring. Focusing on the health and wellbeing of employees is likely to make you more attractive to external talent as well as aiding the retention of the people you simply can’t afford to lose.
3. Doing the right thing: last but certainly not least, there's also a morality issue. With employees spending on average 40% of their waking hours working, it's irresponsible for businesses not to play a role in looking after their people.
The impact of Covid-19 on employee wellbeing
Statistics from mental health charity, Mind, are concerning. In August 2020, they reported that almost 20% of adults are likely to be experiencing some form of depression due to the impact of Covid-19 - almost double compared to stats reported prior to the pandemic.
Are businesses worried about the wellbeing of their people?
As part of our global survey of HR Leaders in June 2020, we asked whether the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed employee wellbeing up the boardroom agenda - and the answer was a resounding yes. A sizeable 86% of respondents stated that employee wellbeing is more of a priority than ever before.
3 months on, what have we seen?
Back in June, there was a definite sense that employee wellbeing couldn’t and shouldn’t be ignored, and that businesses should be doing more to look after their people. Three months have now passed, and it seems apt to reflect on what we have seen and whether good intentions have translated into actions.
A poll of our 120,000 LinkedIn followers offers interesting insight.
Q: Is your business doing more to support the wellbeing of its employees now, compared with before the Covid-19 pandemic?
• 44% Yes, we’re actively doing more
• 4% - Not yet, but we plan to
• 29% - We’d like to, but there’s no budget
• 23% - Initiatives haven't increased
Are organisations delivering on their commitment to employee wellbeing?
With 44% stating that they’ve enhanced their wellbeing offering, there’s evidence that we’re starting to see change - but there’s still a way to go.
New initiatives take time to implement, and with companies still wrestling with the challenges presented by Covid-19, it may be that businesses are further behind than they’d intended.
Given the current financial climate it’s perhaps no surprise that 29% of respondents answered that any enhancements to employee wellbeing are on hold.
Providing better support for your people doesn’t have to be complex or costly. There are a number of simple, cost-effective changes businesses can make. Things like encouraging your employees to take time in the working day for themselves, early finishes on a Friday, flexible working, virtual buddy systems or scheduling regular catch-ups with someone else in the team are all low-cost, and relatively quick and easy to implement.
A practical example - PTHR
If you’re looking for some inspiration, look no further than PTHR and their new initiative, ‘Wellness Wednesdays’.
The team at PTHR love what they do, but they couldn’t escape the fact that they all felt less than 100% - distracted, tired, unfocused - and were struggling to balance the demands of their work.
As a result, Perry Timms, Founder and Chief Energy Officer, consulted with his team. As a group, they took the decision to close the business on Wednesdays and operate a 4-day working week. The aim was to re-energise the team and to rediscover an optimal way of working and being.
‘’We were seeing 40 hours on the clock but in reality, we were probably only seeing 32 hours of high-quality work, so it made sense to punctuate the week. So, Monday and Tuesday we’re on and working, Wednesday we do whatever’s good for the soul, and Thursday and Friday we’re back on and raring to go.’’
Perry Timms, Founder and Chief Energy Officer, PTHR
While Perry admits that a 4-day week won’t be for everyone, a month in, the team at PTHR have seen some encouraging results including:
• A renewed energy for Tuesday - better performance and vitality in conversations and exchanges.
• Improved time management - more thorough consideration given to the scheduling of meetings. They’ve seen a saving of one hour per person per week already, which equals 36 hours a month.
• Client availability - clients are fully on board and some are considering adopting a 4-day week themselves.
• A spark for Thursday - no longer a day to struggle though before Friday, the team at PTHR now consider it their best day of the week.
• Not doing more hours on working days - the team have been able to stick to around 8/9 hours a day during their 4-day week. A clear demonstration of better efficiency and time management.
• More time for ‘whatever’s good for your soul’ - more time to re-energise by doing the things they love.
To learn more about Perry, PTHR, and their commitment to employee wellbeing check out his BPS Perspectives interview or read ‘Why we launched Wellness Wednesdays’.
The global landscape: who’s leading the way
A global survey of CEOs by PwC revealed that UK CEOs are significantly more focused on their employees’ mental wellbeing than their global counterparts, with 90% providing wellbeing support and initiatives - compared with 61% of CEOs globally.
As we enter the next crucial phase of business recovery, we'll be closely monitoring how organisations prioritise wellbeing and we’ll continue to share some of the creative ways this is actioned.
There is a clear acknowledgment that employee wellbeing is a huge consideration at boardroom level right now.
However, the twin pressures of juggling economic recovery and wellbeing will cause inevitable friction and the potential for competing priorities.
One key point remains clear. A healthy and motivated team is the driving force behind any successful business. Therefore, investing in the wellbeing of your people should continue to be a priority in the short, medium and long-term.
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