Why employee wellbeing must be at the heart of your return-to-work strategy

There’s finally light at the end of the tunnel as the UK powers through its road to recovery plan from the pandemic and lockdown rules start to ease. While this may be exciting for some, the lift of the stay-at-home directive is making others feel incredibly uneasy, particularly employees.

Research reveals that 65% of workers confirm they are anxious about returning to the office, while other studies have found that 80% of workers do not want to go back to the office full time.

So, where does that leave employers? If your North East business is in the process of making plans for staff to transition back to the office, your workforce wellbeing must be the number one priority.

A whirlwind year for workplace wellbeing

It goes without saying that Covid-19 has had a huge impact on employee’s mental health. So much so, an estimated 1.9 million workers reported a mental-health related absence in 2020, a staggering 79% of UK employees have experienced work-related stress in the past year and more than a quarter of employees have described themselves as depressed as a result of the pandemic.

In an ideal world, these figures will drop as we start to return to some normality, however, with millions of people dreading their return to the office the chances are they’ll rise even higher.

Return-to-work worries

With the above in mind, it’s vital that employers make every effort to be proactive and pre-empt a mental health crisis during their workplace return. The best place to start is by understanding staff fears and the key things that are triggering their return-to-work anxiety.

Whether your employees have been remote working or on furlough, each individual will have their own specific worries about returning to the office. According to the British Psychological Society, some of the most common concerns and feelings include:

· Fear of exposure to Covid-19- whether that’s in the workplace itself, during their commute or bringing the virus home and infecting loved ones

· Frustration and discomfort at having to wear PPE and the effects it may have on their job performance

· Concerns about childcare and other caring responsibilities in a changing environment

· Generally feeling emotionally exhausted, numb, lacking enthusiasm or engagement

We think it’s also worth remembering that it’s been an extremely long time since your people have been face-to-face, in-person with their colleagues and that alone is going to take some getting used to again!

The key to a happy, healthy workplace return

To establish a post pandemic return-to-work strategy that is completely tailored to individual employees’ needs, we urge business leaders to really listen to their people to find the most effective ways to help them better cope with the challenges ahead.

That’s where the likes of wellbeing assessments come in. By gathering real-time data that covers all of the 5 drivers of wellbeing at work (we’re talking health, relationships, security, environment and purpose) you can get to the heart of what really matters to your people right now and build an appropriate Covid-19 recovery plan that works.

Such consultancy will show employees that they really matter and help to make them feel that they are part of a process over which they have some control – something they haven’t had much of over the past year!

Here at Key Wellbeing we can help businesses in the North East, Teesside and beyond to successfully embed employee wellbeing in their return-to-work strategy. Get in touch, we’d love to hear from you!