We have all heard that necessity is the mother of innovation. The pandemic has made us believe that we will not be able to return to the ‘Old normal’. It has made a gigantic impact on the economy and forced organizations to think outside their comfort zones. Thinking innovatively and more so for the ultimate benefit of employees was not a gradual progression anymore but a need of an hour for the corporates around the world. The crisis has paved the way for many entrepreneurs to evolve and look for opportunities and come up with solutions to close loopholes. The distress situation obligated corporates to respond quickly and understand the market needs and develop a solution in a short span of time.
But what also made entrepreneurs and HR managers think is that employee wellness at the workplace, be it in the office or working remotely, is no longer an added benefit for employees, but a necessity. 2020 did change the landscape of employee wellness and employers are working towards employee wellness for a distributed workforce post-COVID.
We went from working from home last year to following a hybrid working model and now again, back to working from home. These changes in the working models for employees have caused stress and burnout which are at epidemic levels. However, employee engagement, a vital indicator of individual and organizational wellbeing, remains low. Why are we not getting a higher return on our wellness investment? The trick is to think bigger about the idea of wellness and not assess corporate wellness programs merely by their return on investment.
What is wellness?
“Wellness” is a common buzzword since last year, but what does it mean? For a lot of them, it's the form of physical self-care: face masks, sanitizers, yoga, and nutrition. For others, it’s about establishing the boundaries essential to protect their mental health. And there was certainly no clear definition of workplace wellness at least until last year. In such stressful times when the country is facing a grim issue, supporting employee’s mental health is crucial to keep the motivational levels upward.
Companies are offering employee assistance programs
To practice better mental health awareness and protect employees from further fatigue, more and more businesses are introducing wellness programs. Companies are coming up with EAP (Employee assistance programs) and have started providing meditation or wellness rooms, yoga classes, or mindfulness activities to prioritize their employees’ well-being. And EAP counselors work in line with management and administration to ensure the organization is meeting the needs of its employees. Some even offer complete mental health benefits in their medical insurance packages.
How can managers help?
One of the ways to support mental health in the workplace is through accurately trained and compassionate management. A manager who understands the needs of an employee with mental distress can better provide guidance, support, and feedback to help them balance work life and health.
Managers must also understand the wellness at the workplace also means rightly maintaining a balance between personal and professional life. By now it should go without saying that work-life balance has an intense impact on personal wellness, for better or for worse. Working long hours, and managing stress at work directly affects your mental well-being. Workplaces can battle this by offering flexible hours, which luckily a lot of the businesses have started doing. An oversight of workplace dynamics also helps manage stress levels at work, making employees feel supported and heard.
But mental health needs fluctuate from person to person, and certainly from business to business. If you’re a business owner, generalizing your approach to mental health may not be the best option.
Businesses have a responsibility to take care of their employees and support workplace wellness. With just a few simple changes to company policy and smarter health benefits, employee well-being can prosper—and we all know, that does lead to a win-win situation for everyone.