Even before Covid-19 disrupted our everyday working lives, employee wellness programmes were growing in importance in businesses of all shapes and sizes. And with good reason. Statistics from the UK’s Health & Safety Executive show that in 2019/20, pre-pandemic, there were an estimated 828,000 workers affected by work-related stress, resulting in an approximate 17.9 million working days missed. That’s a huge amount of lost productivity and strained working relationships.
Employee wellbeing shouldn’t be an after-thought in the workplace. The pandemic has shown us many things; one being that the resilience and flexibility of workers has been key to continuing to achieve bottom-line results. It’s clear, say leaders at Deloitte US on techtarget.com, that employees who feel less stressed perform better, and are more engaged and satisfied with their work. The pandemic has also increased our reliance on technology and accelerated adoption of IT solutions that enable remote working.
So how do businesses embed employee wellbeing at their core? And how do emerging technologies and IT trends fit in? Here are a few ideas from us:
Companies should look to give tech and HR managers the opportunity to work alongside business leaders to create a holistic strategy that embeds employee wellbeing into everyday work life. Encourage everyone, from the CEO down, to discuss and understand the link between wellbeing and success. Buy-in from the entire company is vital.
Given how interwoven work and technology have become (both WFH and in the office), it’s key that IT leaders are central to addressing the complex challenges of stress-free working. Machines are great at aiding productivity, but tech can also add to employee stress, providing a 24/7 link to work and no escape from an ‘always on’ mindset. Consider introducing an ‘unplug lunch hour’ and/or enforcing a 5.30pm watershed for emails. Importantly, leaders should be seen to adhere to these new wellbeing initiatives themselves, achieving their own improved work/life balance and leading by example.
Provide remote user support to avoid worker IT frustration and stress. Flexible working, training, and learning is here to stay, but you don’t want technology to get in its way. Wherever your team are based, you should also provide access to ergonomic equipment and furniture, promoting healthy bodies as well as minds. Supports such as these signal to your workers that they are valued, visible and appreciated – all great building blocks towards better performance and higher staff retention.
Invest in technologies such as the newly launched Microsoft Viva to help you nurture employee wellbeing and development. Described as the “first employee experience platform to bring tools for employee engagement, learning, wellbeing and knowledge discovery, directly into the flow of people’s work”, it could prove to be an extremely useful tool for your future wellbeing strategy. Microsoft Viva enables employees to access company resources directly from their screen and explore a wide variety of training and professional development through its learning platform. Watch out as it evolves through 2021.
It’s our experience that once the process of looking closely at employee wellbeing begins, a whole raft of ways in which technology can combine with empathy to improve the health and happiness of workers becomes visible. People are your power: invest in their wellbeing and you’ll see a positive return in everything from the bottom-line, to retention, to sick days.
For more information on how we can help businesses keep wellbeing front of mind when planning technological developments, speak to us today.