It’s been a challenging 18-months. Every business and employee have needed to adapt and adapt again; uncertainty has been a constant. We have ploughed on through, adjusting to working from home, managing stock shortages and juggling work and home responsibilities. We have isolated and then returned to work (having sat in queues at the petrol station).
All of this has taken its toll. A report published by Westfield Health reveals that people have been working longer hours, with less support, through the pandemic. As employers focus on recovery and future planning, many employees are more concerned about protecting their mental health. The report suggests millions are planning to change jobs.
Employee Seek Better Work/Life Balance
The report highlights the drivers of this exodus; employees are seeking an improved work/life balance with greater emphasis on physical and mental health. The constant pressures that have resulted from the pandemic and Brexit are unsustainable and people want out.
This loss of employees has the potential to be detrimental to employers. They are at risk of losing experienced and talented teams. Recruiting and training new employees is costly and time-consuming, so what would encourage these workers to stay?
According to the report, only 17% are adamant about leaving; the others could be encouraged to stay. What they need from their employer is flexible working options, a pay rise and more wellbeing support.
Flexible Working Options
Of those surveyed for the report, 47% wanted greater flexibility. This might include the option of remote working but could also include changes to hours. Some employees would like to compress hours (working more hours over fewer days) or staggered hours (starting and finishing earlier or later). This would enable them to manage other responsibilities or have a day off.
This CIPD article on flexible working encourages employers to consider the challenges and benefits of flexible working. It recognises that trust, effective communication, support and a consistent company approach are necessary if flexible working is to become part of the longer-term strategy.
With a company-wide approach, flexible working could help to retain existing employees, as well as attracting future recruits.
There is some positive news on the pay front. According to research by Willis Towers Watson, companies are planning to increase wages by an average of 2.9% in 2022. With positive outlooks, only 1.7% were expected to freeze wages, down from 10% this year.
In addition, some companies, including BT and Microsoft, paid all of their staff a pandemic bonus in recognition of their hard work during a time of upheaval. Wickes had a slightly different approach, offering all employees an additional 3 days of paid leave. Has your business recognised your employees’ contribution to maintaining business as usual through tough times?
Increased Support for Mental Health & Wellbeing
Companies need to be more aware of the health of all employees. There has been a general decline in wellbeing through the pandemic and with remote working, poor mental health has been more difficult to spot.
A certain level of pressure can operate as a motivator, driving productivity and collaboration. Beyond an optimal point, it has the reverse effect, reducing an individual’s capacity and confidence. When things feel overwhelming and out of control, we feel there is less time to do the things that can get us back on track; exercise, eat nutritious food and get a good night’s sleep.
Workers feel that employers should be doing more to protect the mental health of their workforce. Mental Health training and workshops are an ideal way to raise awareness and explore ways to cope with internal and external pressures. They encourage people to talk and help employers to understand particular strains or trigger points that cause overwhelm.
In addition, employers should look at policies and risk assessments; is equal weight give to protecting physical and mental wellbeing? How can a company culture ensure that employees aren’t skipping breaks or working late into the night to keep on top of their workload?
As specialists in the delivery of Mental Health audits, training, workshops and policies, Mindset Mental Health can help your company to take a proactive approach to staff wellbeing. Let us help you to retain talent.