In their 2021 Future of Work report, PwC recommended “Proactive tools and solutions to support wellbeing” as one of the top areas that employers should prioritise. Beyond basic health and safety requirements, how are you actively supporting your people’s wellbeing in this new hybrid world of work?
Employee needs have changed
With extreme pressures over the last two years – from lockdowns to homeschooling and now restructures – along with the rise of the cost of living and interest rates, it’s likely that your employees could be suffering from a second ‘perfect storm’. According to Headspace’s resources on creating a mentally healthy workplace, absenteeism and presenteeism costs Australian workplaces up to $17 billion dollars per year.
If we look at Mazlows’ hierarchy of human needs, you’ll note that alongside the other ‘Safety’ needs such as personal security, employment, property and resources, is health. Mental health is part of this and being able to speak about what you might be going through with someone who is qualified is essential to better outcomes. Employees expect to be able to find the right support when and where they need it.
The gap that exists in HR
While some employees suffer in silence, and some speak to friends or work colleagues, others reach out to HR looking for help. What they find is an overstretched team who has done their best to adapt to a myriad of new responsibilities brought on by COVID-19. From PwC’s report The Way We Work, they asked people to rate the following statement on a scale of 1 (completely disagree) to 4 (completely agree): My HR organisation is agile enough to adapt swiftly to future developments. An incredible 32% of respondents selected that they mostly disagreed with this statement.
What employees also face is the fact that HR works for the interests of the company and from a legal standpoint represents what is best for company outcomes. HR is not (as many may mistakenly think) a ‘Switzerland’ of the corporate workplace. This realisation can come as a shock in their time of need and employees can feel unsupported and even angry when directed to an outdated EAP system.
So who can employees turn to if they don’t feel safe with their manager but don’t trust HR?
The importance of psychological safety
Asking employees to return to the office has exposed a disconnect between what organisations want and what their employees want. Considering the campaign push from some employers to ‘get back to the office’ coupled with the feelings of burnout reported by many employees, it’s no surprise that one in five Australians resigned last year in what was coined, ‘The Great Resignation’.
In a McKinsey study of more than 2,900 people last year, one-third of those who had just returned to the office said going back negatively affected their mental health. The report highlighted that “Employers can potentially reduce stress and anxiety for their workers by considering mental health as part of a holistic on-site return plan”.
Providing the right return to work support can have significant positive effects on critical workplace outcomes, including employee wellbeing, satisfaction, productivity, and absenteeism. Stacey Harris, the Chief Research Officer and Managing Partner at Sapient Insights Group states that “HR tends to take an all-or-nothing approach to workplace flexibility, but I think HR has to really shift that thinking.” In the article, Where is HR heading in 2022? from Workday, they believe that thinking about flexibility is a key theme for HR this year and that giving workers autonomy over their scheduling benefits both the employees and the company.
Employers can take immediate action to support employee concerns and the need for flexibility in the return to on-site work, but the weight shouldn’t all fall on HR’s shoulders. Hello Coach is an offering that seamlessly integrates into your workplace; dedicating a global network of expert coaches to focus on your people.
Book a demo now to see how Hello Coach can help develop your people and transform your company: https://hello-coach.com/enterprise/