Wellbeing: Five trends for the future

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Written by Naomi Humber on 4 August 2021 in Features
Features

Naomi Humber outlines different ways of supporting wellbeing in the workplace.

Wellness in the workplace has been on the radar for a long time. Now, as we ease our way out of lockdown, employers must prioritise it even more. The pandemic has changed our working lives completely and our priorities in the workplace have shifted. With so much change recently, this leaves the question – what does the future of wellbeing look like?

Work plays a crucial part in our everyday lives. From giving us a sense of purpose, to providing the opportunity to socialise with our colleagues at a time when so many have been isolated, it’s important to create a positive workspace for all.

New research has shown an increase in awareness for wellbeing, with 36% of those surveyed agreeing that their employer is now more understanding about mental health.

Wellbeing in the workplace means different things to different people, so it’s important to offer a diverse mix of wellbeing. It’s vital to keep up the momentum, with so many businesses focusing on wellbeing support during the pandemic.

By seizing the wellbeing opportunity presented by the pandemic there are numerous benefits to be found too. From a greater focus on mental health recovery to encouraging diversity at work, here are five wellness trends to suit any business.

No one size fits all

Employee health is vital to every business, and over the last year in particular, many employees have come to expect that their employer cares about their health. Employers must seize this opportunity to offer wellbeing support to build a happier and more mentally resilient workforce.

With happier people comes better performance, better staff attraction and retention, fewer sick days, and a more diverse and inclusive workforce

And with happier people comes better performance, better staff attraction and retention, fewer sick days, and a more diverse and inclusive workforce. For many businesses, there is now not just an opportunity for recovery, but for renewal. Employee wellbeing can, and should be the central tenet of any organisation’s COVID-recovery plan – and its culture too.

However, everyone’s mental health is personal to them. So, it’s important to recognise that your support must meet all your employee’s diverse needs. Firstly, gather insights from your employees by discussing their needs.

Accessibility is key

We’ve seen a marked increase in the number of health and wellbeing services offered by businesses over the last year. Employees surveyed for our latest research said that their employer has introduced some form of initiative in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and many hope that these changes will become permanent.

Ensuring your employees have access to both physical and mental health support can increase productivity, reduce absence in the workplace and improve morale.

 

Promote flexibility

Most of us have experienced a change in our working life because of the pandemic, whether it’s the end of commuting, changes to job roles, or the industries in which we work. Some of these changes are perceived as positive. Research found that 33% of employees want more flexibility with working patterns and hours over the next 12 months.

While it may not be possible for everyone depending on the nature of their work, offering greater flexibility can help your team achieve a better work-life balance, leading to increased employee satisfaction and improved morale. Loyalty, engagement, and productivity levels may improve, too.

You can encourage flexibility in the workplace in several ways, for example by offering hybrid working or remote working options. Consider asking your employees what they are hoping to gain from workplace flexibility, although everyone’s requirements may be very different.

Focus on mental health recovery

Mental health problems affect around one in four people in any given year, and we know that concerns have been exacerbated by the pandemic. Promisingly, research shows that 78% of UK employees say they have experienced either fairly good or good mental wellbeing at work during the Coronavirus crisis – this is even slightly up on pre-pandemic levels, where 76% reported the same.

It’s important we keep this momentum in the workplace and focus on mental health support, both for treatment and recovery.

Encourage diversity at work

The most important part of encouraging diversity and inclusion at work is creating an environment that welcomes and includes each employee. Organisations with diverse and inclusive workplaces boast several benefits; not only does it make for happier working conditions for employees, it also opens them up to new ideas and innovation.

Research shows that last year one in seven employers (14%) introduced policies to ensure diversity and inclusion in the past 12 months. As we navigate our way out of the pandemic, it’s important employers recognise the benefits of encouraging a diverse workplace.

Many companies have already done a good job promoting non-binary and gender inclusion by providing gender-neutral bathrooms. But this needs to extend to the remote space as well. You may find it helpful to create digital ‘safe spaces’.

Firstly, encourage employees to add pronouns to their email signatures and usernames, or invite employees to reserve time for prayer and other personal needs by blocking it out on the calendar. This will ensure every employee feels comfortable bringing their full self to work.

 

About the author

Naomi Humber is head of mental wellbeing at Bupa UK

 

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