The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted almost every industry in some shape or form in recent months, forcing many businesses to adapt for survival. In amongst commercial pressures, there have, and still remain, personal pressures and the human impact of a rapidly evolving working landscape.

People sat in office talking

As lockdown restrictions across the UK begin to ease and workplaces go about reopening and implementing a new ‘norm’, it is still likely that many businesses will adopt a more flexible way, with working from home (WFH) becoming more common place, at least in the short-medium term. But as with any operational changes comes a responsibility to support worker wellbeing.

Vivienne Tolley, HR Services Director at Smith Cooper works alongside businesses to provide pragmatic, cost-effective HR consultancy to clients, helping them navigate the complex employment landscape. In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the impact this has had on working environments, Vivienne discusses that human impact, and what employers must consider assuring worker wellbeing during a period of exponential change.

The critical link between worker wellbeing and business functionality

“There is a tangible link between engagement, wellbeing, and productivity, and its vital that managers and business owners recognise this as it is crucial in maintaining morale, particularly during a period of uncertainty.

The health and wellbeing of our workforce sits at the heart of business functionality and longevity..  Whilst the pandemic imposed the need for remote working upon many businesses it has been recognised that it also offers many benefits.   A growing number of businesses are announcing that they will not be asking their employees to return to full time office working and in order to manage such new working practices effectively employers will need to consider and mitigate any risks to an employee’s wellbeing:

  • Managing properly – Now more than ever, the need to manage properly is crucial. Business owners and managers have a unique opportunity to realign and refocus their vision, values and working culture, leading their team through 2020 and beyond. But this will undoubtedly require a shift in approach. A managerial approach that once worked for an office-based team may no longer be the status quo, and instead a new approach must be devised, one that considers and addresses any issues faced as a result of working from home.
  • Keeping staff appraised,encouraging regular contact from managers – Clear, frequent, and transparent communication is vital in supporting worker wellbeing, particularly in remote working environments. Consciously schedule time to check in with team members. Keep them appraised of a change in commercial goals and changes to office measures. Check they have the resources necessary to continue doing their job and let them know where they can access additional support.
  • Help employees adapt to a new ‘normal’ way of working – Without the structures of ‘normal’ office life, employees can feel disrupted and isolated, having an adverse impact on their general well-being. Whether employees are working from home or navigating a new workplace layout, supporting them during a time like this requires a dynamic approach, and there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ model. Employers who roll out sufficient provisions to support the new way of working will reap the rewards in the long term, and employees are likely to have greater feelings of stability and belonging, and therefore greater job satisfaction.”

Need help supporting your workforce?

We understand that the expense and practicality of a permanent HR resource is unnecessary for some organisations, which is why we are flexible and accommodating in our approach to HR consultancy. We pride ourselves on the mutual respect and partnerships that we have with our clients and focus on providing flexible solutions that really work for them.

Vivienne can support your business to devise new flexible working policies and practices, having  been working with organisations to build and implement pragmatic and commercial HR strategies for over 30 years  supporting clients who operate in an incredibly diverse range of sectors.

Vivienne’s expertise encompasses all aspects of HR, so whether you seek advice on boosting worker wellbeing, encouraging greater leadership capabilities, or maybe you’re looking for help navigating the challenges of downsizing in the current tough economic climate or looking for  guidance on redundancy alternatives, our HR consultancy services may be ideal for you.