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How to support employee recognition and wellbeing in the workplace
With the large numbers of people who’ve been infected with Covid-19 in the UK and around the world, more and more are being known about the virus and its short- and longer-term health effects. Previously with SARS, (the first form of SARS, 2002, 2003), there were very few long-term effects, but with COVID-19 the effects seem to affect the whole body and the brain impacting the health of individuals. Therefore, COVID-19 will shape what wellbeing and recognition benefits employers and employees look at having as part of their future benefits programme to help them mobilise, stabilise and return to work.
One of the key considerations will be to look at benefits that help to build resilience and improve the health and wellbeing of staff. As an example, obesity is being increasingly recognised as a risk factor for becoming seriously ill with COVID-19 – and it’s not just limited to older people. In a recent study younger people admitted to hospital with COVID-19 were more likely to be obese, according to a letter in the Lancet reporting on 265 patients admitted to 5 different hospitals in the US (1). The reason the authors say is that obesity can restrict ventilation by impeding contraction of the diaphragm, impair immune response to viral infection, and can cause inflammation in the body (which also impairs the immune response), and adversely affects cardiovascular function. Therefore, wellbeing benefit programmes that support healthy eating and promote exercise are growing in popularity. Dietary advice and information are available with Employee Assistance Programmes and the Cycle 2 Work scheme encourages exercise both in terms of commuting to work and outside of work.
Another key challenge facing businesses as they try to sustain themselves through the economic recession caused by the lockdown, is how to make sure that employees feel appreciated and motivated so that they maintain productivity?
This can be achieved through creating a positive and dynamic culture of recognition and putting in tools to celebrate employee success and innovation. What once may have begun with Employee of the Month or Staff Member of the Year recognition, or even a spreadsheet of work anniversary milestones must evolve, so that employers are seen to be caring and fostering an inclusive work environment. So, the tools and events that might have worked in an office setting need to change because of the onset of remote working which has now been accelerated due to COVID-19, need to adapt and change. As work colleagues are less able to have that typical face-to-face connection, which can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. A recent report from Buffer showed that one in five employees surveyed stated “loneliness” as their top struggle (2).
The tools that can be used include bulletin boards if the company is using a benefits platform, which will help employees feel less isolate or retail e-vouchers and retail discount cards as rewards. These are affordable ways to make employees pay go that much further without needing to commit to on-going pay increases. These tools are all about rewarding behaviours. Another simple and effective tool is peer to peer recognition whereby work colleagues nominate each other rather than being a line manager responsibility.
Giving access to continuous on-line learning course that offer a wide range of categories covering personal development to specific skills, including university courses can further help engage staff with the business. The focus is around helping employees with their continuing self-improvement by giving them access to develop existing or new professional skills and ensure that they maintain their professional knowledge and competence. The reason why this is important is that businesses may need to redeploy employees to new emerging needs where they need to develop new skills and understanding to become fully effective.
The aim now for many businesses is how do you stabilise the business and determine what the shape of the business looks like going forward? Do you bring everyone back into the workplace or do you transition to a new business operating model? What COVID-19 is teaching us all is that you have to constantly look forward and make sure that your workforce is able and keen to respond to the new environment that they find themselves and capitalise on the opportunities. The tools and benefits discussed earlier will certainly help to make that transition easier.
Managing Director, Busy Bees Benefits
Provider of the SmartHive Platform
Smart Hive is an integrated, cost effective employee benefits platform that provides your employees with access to all their health and wellbeing benefits in one place. Talk to a member of our team today or book your very own demonstration.