There is a question mark hanging over the occupational health profession, around understanding what the post-COVID-19 workplace looks like.
As employees balance working from home and the office, human resource and wellbeing professionals have a lot of questions to think about when it comes to the wellbeing of their employees.
As organisers of the National Workplace Health and Wellbeing Conference we have put together a list of 32 Workplace Wellbeing Questions HR and Wellbeing Professionals should ask themselves in light of the current situation.
It's no exaggeration to say the look of the modern workplace has dramatically changed already, as have employees' expectations of their employer when it comes to supporting their mental and physical wellbeing. Here are 32 health and wellbeing questions which all HR & Wellbeing professionals must ask themselves when reviewing their organisation's workplace policies to ensure wellbeing at work.
Questions about wellbeing you should ask yourself.
- Does our strategy cover mental and physical wellbeing as a joint issue?
- Can our strategy claim to cover a wide range of wellbeing issues?
- Is our strategy or framework clearly signposted and accessible for all employees?
- Do we review and update the strategy regularly in line with employee feedback?
- Are methods for supporting employees back into work after long-term sick leave outlined in our strategy?
- Can we better utilise early intervention methods to reduce absences?
- How has COVID-19 changed our strategy?
Before reviewing your current strategy, you must understand the metrics of your organisation. What are current sickness levels? What is the highest cause of absence? How do employees feel about health/wellbeing in the organisation? What is the culture around mental health? How can you measure impact? These factors are important and often missed by many.
An overarching and accessible workplace wellbeing strategy is the foundation of any organisation's employee support system. Ensuring the strategy covers a diverse range of wellbeing subjects is vital, for example, Musculoskeletal Health, Domestic Abuse and Financial Wellbeing.
An important fact HR teams and wellbeing leads must always remember is while mental and physical wellbeing are two different subjects, they're also inextricably linked and a successful workplace wellbeing strategy must reflect that.
Questions you should ask yourself.
- Does our current workplace wellbeing strategy effectively cover remote workers and their wellbeing needs?
- Did our remote working policies change during COVID-19 and, as such, do we need to update our wellbeing practices?
- Are we offering equal support to remote workers in comparison to our office-based employees?
- Should we create separate guidance and tools around mental and physical wellbeing for staff who work remotely?
- Do we have different types of remote workers and does our strategy accommodate each of them if so?
- How can we ensure our remote workers feel part of a team and like valued members of the organisation?
- Are efficient processes in place to ensure line managers understand how to support their team members who work remotely?
- Could we be more open to making workplace adjustments in response to employee feedback?
The UK has seen a dramatic increase in the number of employees working from home as a result of COVID-19. It's vital for organisations to understand the impact this has had on staff mental and physical wellbeing. This understanding needs to trickle down to all managers to ensure maximum impact.
Different organisations will also have different types of remote workers. For example, on-site employees in a housing association or construction/utility workers who move between working locations. These employees will require different levels of support and communication compared to the traditional 'working from home' employees.
Culture & Communication
Questions you should ask yourself.
- Are we doing all we can to promote the wellbeing schemes and initiatives we offer our employees?
- Is enough being done to engage and communicate with our workforce to ensure we provide the support mechanisms they want?
- Do we understand how our employees view wellbeing, the policies and the HR/Wellbeing team?
- Have we created an environment where staff feel comfortable coming forward with wellbeing issues?
- Could we utilise our own staff more as a tool to improve our wellbeing and culture?
- How can we empower staff to establish their own support networks?
- Have we got senior-level buy-in when implementing new policies?
- Do staff feel comfortable coming forward to ask for help without risk of reprisal or stigma?
- Are robust procedures in place to ensure employees can report sensitive issues, such as bullying or harassment?
- Can we make the process of coming forward less stressful for staff members in need?
Its widely understood that workplace wellbeing and culture go hand in hand, but it's often the first concept overlooked. How your employees feel and what they think is incredibly important. Talking to your people seems too simple, yet it's effective.
Understanding what the workforce wants should be the driving factor behind your workplace wellbeing strategy with senior management acting as the catalyst to support initiatives and promote them internally. Staff need to have confidence in the system they use if they're to come forward when they have wellbeing issues. Only through effective communication and culture can organisations build this confidence.
Questions you should ask yourself.
- Have we re-evaluated our wellbeing training programmes in light of COVID-19?
- How can we improve our training so staff can better recognise the warning signs of potential health issues?
- Is training around physical and mental wellbeing being offered in an accessible manner for both remote and office environments?
- Could we train volunteers to become health and work champions?
- Do our staff feel confident and well-equipped with the training we currently provide?
- Should we offer mental health first aid training?
- Are our training methods engaging and efficient enough to tackle modern workplace challenges, especially in light of COVID-19?
Offering robust and efficient wellbeing training to members of staff is a core aspect of creating a healthy workplace and it also offers personal growth for your employees. Having managers who can recognise possible warning signs and staff members understanding the negative impact of ignoring signs and reporting it sooner will reduce absences and save time/money in the long run.
Although the questions above are a great starting point, another way to boost learning and understanding of this incredibly important topic is by attending CPD courses. If you'd like to find out more, you can join us at The National Workplace Health & Wellbeing Conference 2022, taking place on the 12th October in central London: