HEALTH AND WELLBEING - THE WORK/LIFE BALANCE THAT WE ALL NEED

What has become even more prominent during the pandemic is the importance of mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. Covid-19 has created many opportunities to work from home, and interestingly has proven how remote working can directly influence our health, wellbeing and the overall productivity of a business.

In our latest analysis, BoldMove explores how important the work-life balance is to both employees and businesses and how organisations can ensure wellbeing remains a top priority for all employees.

One key finding from the BoldMove Life after lockdown survey was the overwhelming number of people interested in continuing to work from home. The results showed that 72% of PR professionals would like to maintain working remotely.

Figure: Proportion of respondents wanting to continue working from home

With lockdown restrictions beginning to ease, however, employers are encouraging many employees back to the office, but this comes with a number of new challenges. Recent findings from the CIPD suggest that over 40% of employees are concerned and anxious about returning to the workplace due to the potential health impacts, and as highlighted in the BoldMove survey, 72% of PR professionals would prefer to continue working from home. The survey indicated that 45% of respondents stated they were unsure in regard to confidence in returning to the workplace, and a further 15% were not confident at all. 

Anxiety and the increased level of uncertainty surrounding furlough and job security inevitably impact overall mental health and wellbeing. Providing as much clarity and information as possible will ensure employees feel more confident and have more of an understanding of their return to work. The survey findings suggest that at present, PR professionals may not have sufficient information to deliver the confidence needed.

“One of the biggest and not so surprising points is the time gained back from not commuting to work. Many people lose up to 3 hours a day commuting and for some a great amount of that time is spent crammed up against other people on public transport, unable to do anything remotely productive.” says Julia Fenwick, Founder of BoldMove Consulting. “Respondents to our survey highlighted how they have put that otherwise lost time to better use by taking more exercise, cooking healthy meals or spending more time with family and friends. All of these things provide a much happier and healthier lifestyle”.

Figure: Respondents feelings to working from home

One clear finding from the survey was the potential to create a better work-life balance and the benefits provided to both the individual and the associated business. The pandemic, while it has been a challenging period, has enabled many to reconnect and create a balanced approach to home and work life. 

Aside from the direct impacts related to the pandemic, employee mental health and wellbeing is regarded as a top priority for many employers. The CIPD suggests that nearly 70% of employers view employee mental health and wellbeing as one of the biggest challenges their business faces. 

The focus now lies on how employers intend to incorporate mental health and wellbeing into their business plan as we move into a different era of working. The implications of the pandemic on mental health and wellbeing are yet to be completely addressed. Many employees will be cautious and somewhat anxious about contracting the virus and others will be concerned about job security, their financial situation and generally returning to the workplace. Businesses need to be prepared and willing to adapt to include a number of measures that are capable of supporting employees through this new stage. Measures will need to enable employees to create an effective work-life balance and manage any concerns they may have about returning to work. 

The complexities associated with well-being and mental health mean it’s difficult to apply a single solution for everyone returning to the workplace. There are a number of strategies that employers should consider to effectively manage this transition. This includes:

  • Creating a comprehensive strategy of all the practical measures in the workplace, providing clarity to all returning employees.
  • Ensuring employees have continued options to connect with other colleagues, whether they are working from home or not.
  • Reviewing and assessing the existing employee assistance programme in the workplace and focus on the provision of work-life balance support through individual coaching or training.
  • Providing access to other relevant resources to enable employees to gain further information concerning wellbeing and mental health.
  • Where possible, businesses should look to establish an internal network of mental health or wellbeing champions who can provide specific support for the business. 

The role of managers on health and wellbeing

People managers will play a vital part in supporting wellbeing and mental health in the workplace. How people are treated on a daily basis is critical to mental health and management techniques have a direct impact on work-related stress. Managers need to continue maintaining contact with their teams on a regular and individual basis. While managers do not have to be mental health experts, they should be equipped with the knowledge and understanding to be capable of identifying potential signs of poor wellbeing and mental health. 

Representing an effective way of managing well-being and mental health can encourage other team members to follow suit and participate in any relevant activities. Most importantly, businesses need to ensure people remain connected and managers must take the opportunity to bring employees together whenever possible. 

For more details on how managers can provide support on mental health, view the CIPD guide, presented in partnership with Mind.

View all of the findings from the BoldMove survey here.

Download and view the entire life after furlough survey here.