The pandemic has heralded a new era of work, where organisations have recognised the need to put employee health and wellbeing at the centre of their strategy. But there is still work to be done, writes Lauren Sterling.
The past two years have elevated the urgency to put the human element back into the workplace, placing health and wellbeing at the very heart of the corporate agenda.
HR certainly has a responsibility for implementing these changes and is best placed to lead the transformation from recovery to growth by working in partnership with their occupational health and wellbeing counterparts. The Council for Work and Health’s Dr Steve Boorman sees the task as “creating conditions in which staff feel protected, valued, engaged and cared for”.
But there is a long journey ahead of us. In this age of uncertainty, staff are nearing tipping point, overwhelmed with immense workload and poor working practices. According to professor of occupational psychology Dr Gail Kinman, “presenteeism, burnout, PTSD and unhealthy coping strategies throughout the pandemic have put staff at risk of long-term mental ill health”.
Anyone working from home will understand the myriad of musculoskeletal issues now being faced by employees, and many long-term conditions such as obesity and cancer have been under diagnosed and under managed, not to mention the rapidly emerging effects of long Covid. These healthcare challenges need to be carefully managed, with early interventions and long-term strategies put in place.
If there is any training and upskilling to be done here, it needs to be with line managers responsible for managing both office-based and hybrid workers. They desperately need to acquire the expertise to cultivate a culture of inclusion, trust, compassion and flexibility, to be empathetic and understand when staff need support and to appropriately signpost them when necessary.
There is a real opportunity to transform the health and wellbeing agenda in terms of its reach, models and delivery, with HR and occupational health well and truly in the driving seat. In the words of BACP’s (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) Workplace division’s Nicola Neath, “corporate success can start to be measured by the health and wellbeing of its employees”.
If you would like to find out how you can be part of this workplace transformation and learn from best practice, sign up today for Health and Wellbeing at Work at Birmingham’s NEC on 15-16 March. The conference and exhibition is celebrating 16 successful years and has 18 conference programmes, 12 hours of CPD, 180 speakers and over 100 exhibitors.
- Mental health and emotional wellbeing
- Diversity and inclusion
- Employment law and policies
- Shaping culture and values
- Employee engagement and experience
- Women’s health
- Occupational psychology and coaching psychology
- Future of work
- Safety behaviour and culture.