Employee wellbeing surveys are a big part of our offer and as you can probably imagine, those we’ve worked on in the past two years have all referenced Covid and its associated consequences in some way. Covid’s impact on work has undoubtedly been profound, and it’s been fascinating seeing, via survey responses, how it has changed people’s lives, generally for the better.
We can’t hit you with headline stats because all the surveys are bespoke with questions relevant to the companies running them. So there’s no way of aggregating responses, but we can tell you about some of the key trends and themes that have emerged.
Many people thrived because of the pandemic
Before exploring this point, I want to stress that the pandemic was (and still is for many) an extremely tough time. However we saw so many positives come through in these surveys. There were those who, because they weren’t commuting each day, were able to exercise more, eat healthier, and have more ‘me time’.
There were those who could relocate because they could now work remotely. For some this meant they could escape built up cities, experience more affordable housing prices or rent, and have more space for their family.
And there were those who could spend more time with their children and who were so grateful for it. We saw comments from Dads who barely saw their children in the working week pre-covid. Now they were hands on, doing nursery and school runs, enjoying family meals and were around for bed duties. We saw comments like the ones from this father who posted this poignant message on LinkedIn recently (and do read the comments from those feeling the same).
By being around more they are then able to support partners, who in turn have more time to focus on their working lives. When this happens, it has huge positive impacts for wellbeing, performance at work, and in turn for the companies these people work for.
Most workplaces ARE supporting staff with their wellbeing
It may not fit the mainstream narrative to say this, but bravo to many companies up and down the country for adapting and supporting employees during a very tricky period.
There’s a lot of talk of toxic workplaces, tyrannical bosses, and unhealthy cultures – and we know this exists – but there are companies with vibrant employee wellbeing schemes, mental health days, EAP offerings, and genuinely supportive cultures. We can see this from the questions and responses within the surveys.
The pandemic accelerated conversations around mental health and thrust employee wellbeing higher up the workplace agenda. Those new to it have taken their first steps, wanting to do their bit to support and retain staff, as well as boost performance at work.
Of course there are businesses struggling to get this right, where covid’s impact on work has been negative, and where problems exist and there’s too much pressure placed on staff. But the fact they are running surveys and giving staff a voice will, hopefully, be the starting point to more empathetic working environments.
Those involved in wellbeing schemes are rightly lauded
Talking of appreciation, what emerged from said surveys is that employees are grateful for those staff members that are the driving force behind internal employee wellbeing schemes.
An example is Kasia Kuchnicka, who combines her role as Contact Centre Manager at the Royal Albert Hall with overseeing the venue’s employee wellbeing offering. She was praised by a number of colleagues in one survey we ran for her enthusiasm, warmth and the support she provides to fellow employees.
Elsewhere, managers are praised for their empathy, HR leads are acknowledged for their patience and understanding, and CEOs are appreciated for speaking out about their own mental health.
Employees don’t expect too much with employee wellbeing (but say thanks)
We discovered many survey respondents were appreciative of the support from their employer. If they had schemes or activities in place, most employees were aware of them, even if they didn’t use them.
Rarely did we see staff demanding multi-faceted schemes with weekly sessions. Most people have busy roles and want the option to dip in and out of programmes as and when they need to, and appreciate the advice and insights available to them.
The overriding sentiment from employees is they want wellbeing support in place to access if needed. They want approachable managers and senior leadership to show they care. And they want gratitude – oh yes, this is a big one. Saying thanks, praising work, and being appreciated is something that goes a long way at work.
The trends we’ve seen are backed up by statistical research
The themes we’ve highlighted all come from the surveys we’ve run for businesses. These businesses are likely to actively run or consider launching wellbeing schemes. It’s fair to say they generally care for their employees and this is reflected in the results we’ve seen. We therefore appreciate that our findings are in no way representative of the UK as a whole; there will be companies across the country with no plans to engage in such activities.
Yet our findings on Covid’s impact on work are backed up by more evidence based research. Take this recent research from The Economist – The great rebalancing: priorities and worklife balance in a hybrid working environment – which polled 700 business leaders and 4,000 employees on work-life balance from around the world. When asked the below question the average score from UK respondents was an encouraging 5.1.
- On a scale from 1 to 7, where 1 equals very negative and 7 equals very positive, how would you rate your work-life balance at the moment?
In addition, 84% of business leaders and 73% of employees stated that they were satisfied with their job at present.
We feel that Covid’s impact on work has been largely positive. However we’ll leave the last word to Oli Orchard, Founder at Fuel Media & Marketing, who wrote this on LinkedIn about the impact working from home has had on his life:
“Now I get to help my two boys grow up, not just spectate. I work from home, I’m there in the morning when they have their breakfast, when they leave for school and when they come home. I help them brush their teeth at night and, when they’re in the mood for it, help with spellings. I still work long hours, but they’re on my terms now, and fit around my life, rather than life fitting around work.”