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Employee Wellbeing Q1 2022

Navigating hybrid working and supporting employee wellbeing

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Emma Mamo

Head of Workplace Wellbeing, Mind

As many employers begin adopting hybrid working – with many staff returning to their former workplaces part of the time – it’s vital they continue to prioritise staff wellbeing.

The pandemic has taken a toll on our mental health, affecting almost every area of our lives, including the way we work. Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) tells us rates of depression have doubled in Great Britain from around one in 10 to one in five. Regardless of the size of your workplace, many – if not all – of your colleagues will have been affected in some way, so it has never been more important to promote staff wellbeing.

Hybrid working

With most offices closing, many staff found themselves working from home full time, for the first time. Some employees have spoken of the pros of remote working, including the added flexibility, more time to spend with family and less time, money and stress spent commuting.

But there have been down sides too – some employees have found working remotely isolating, particularly those who live alone, or have difficult relationships with those they live with. Many employers are now trialling staff dividing their working week between the workplace and their homes. A recent survey of managers by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) found that more than 80% of firms have adopted hybrid working.

Hybrid working has the potential to be the best of both worlds, but it’s worth remembering that adopting a new model of working is further disruption and will require employees to adjust. In times of change and uncertainty, staff will look to their employers to provide guidance so workers will want support on how to manage returning to work. It is important staff adjust in a way that doesn’t make anyone feel unsafe or distressed. For employers, that means regularly surveying staff, listening to feedback and implementing recommendations.

The surge in demand for information and support we’ve been seeing is likely to continue to grow.

Prioritising mental health 

Although the physical threat of COVID is thankfully greatly reduced, we can’t say how long the mental health impact will last. The surge in demand for information and support we’ve been seeing is likely to continue to grow, so it’s really important the UK Government keep pace with increased need by investing in mental health services.

Aside from the NHS, your employer has a responsibility to support your wellbeing. Measures such as flexible working, generous annual leave, access to employee assistance programmes (EAP) and subsidised exercise classes can help staff feel valued and supported.

Mind’s website has information on staying mentally healthy at this time, as well as tips for staff and employers: www.mind.org.uk/work. Free resources are also available via the Mental Health at Work website: www.mentalhealthatwork.org.uk

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