Hr Services

Post-Covid Well-being

Monday, June 29, 2020

How are you feeling right now?

How many times have you been asked that since COVID took hold and we were all banished to our houses? Are you sick of it yet? How are you feeling right now? How many times have you been asked that since COVID took hold and we were all banished to our houses?

Are you sick of it yet?

Or do you quite like this new caring sharing attitude of your friends, colleagues, and boss?

How long do you think it will last once we get back to work,back to ‘normal’. Will that normal be new, or simply reverting to the old ‘can you just…’ pre-COVID times?

Times will undoubtedly be tough for all organisations post-COVID-let’s face it, for some, times already are, funding needs to come from somewhere, and cuts may well be commonplace meaning workloads increase and with it comes stress and workplace anxiety.

According to a new CIPD report, 67% of employees working from home during lock down have enjoyed the new autonomy, 65% feel valued by their employer and 73% have access to Occupational Health Support. However, 55% have reported new back pain, 48% are working longer hours and 26% continue to work despite illness.

So, what can we all do in the new world to aid ours and others’ well being both in and out of work?

HOMEWORKING

One pretty apparent thing is working from home (WFH) will become more common, now that companies have learned to trust and communicate with their people working from home, I can see this could well become popular for many companies. The benefit of this is three-fold:

HEALTH:

It promotes work-life balance in a way this couldn’t be promoted when we were all in the office; lack of travel time, being able to get on with a few home tasks in your breaks; receive deliveries and flex more on when you do your work making school pickup/drop off  and family commitments more feasible, without losing official work time – all great notes for healthier lifestyles.

It’s important however we heed those dreaded CIPD survey results of 48% of people working longer hours (which I’m inclined to accept as representative as most of my associates in permanent jobs have found they need to work through into the evenings to cope with childcare in the day). BUT, are people using those hours productively? Do companies need those additional hours to be worked? It does concern me that I’ve heard directly of managers encouraging longer hours working since lockdown, people getting praised for working longer hours, and only getting praised for that, not for the performance of those additional hours.

I’ve seen people being crushed by long work hours in the past and it’s not a pretty thing to witness. Long work hours do not mean productive, efficient and effective working, they often result in lower productivity as people don’t take the time to refresh or revive their energy, so it depletes, meaning they need to work longer hours to achieve the same amount and the vicious cycle continues until they pop.

As employers, colleagues, and friends, we need to be looking out for our peers and discouraging longer hours working. If people are struggling to cope, it is our responsibility to help them – yes, that includes your managers and employers. 

Do you want to lose great people because you failed to support them in their times of need?

 I would guess not, it takes a good six months to replace anyone, and longer if that person was good at what they did, so don’t beat yourselves into a hole by mistreating your employees, look out for them and they will continue to deliver for you. 

ENVIRONMENT:

the lack of a need for mass movement between 7-9 am and 4-6 pm means fewer folk on the road all at once, in fact probably less folk on the road full stop! Less traffic stagnation, less frustration on the roads, less pollution and so on… there is zero bad in this, it can only be good!

FINANCIAL:

If less office space is required, less office space needs to be paid for, simple! Or is it? Perhaps not so easy is the assessment of desk space health and safety (and health and safety at work in general) remember that a 55%increase in new back pain? Also, the uncertainties of home insurance and provision of appropriate desk equipment such as computers, printers/scanners,paper, and files, etc. some of which need to be kept in central locations. 

So, my guessing is for some this could be an easy switch,but for others, there may need to be a lot of coordination and design thinking go into a more permanent set up of the good old WFH.

FITNESS:

Yes, people, working from home makes it easy to binge, laze,and risk doing nothing! So, if we wish post-COVID times to be healthy times, we need to consider - if homeworking does continue - how will we ensure we don’t become a nation of WFH weebles?! 

Fitness is key here, finding neighbours instead of colleagues to exercise within lunch breaks, welcoming Joe Wicks into your home for a daily jump fest, and taking regular ‘walk the garden’ breaks or ‘walk the block’ breaks! The most important thing will be to keep moving. 

Managers and employers can encourage their people to take full lunch breaks, get out and get moving, where meetings don’t require visualsencourage people to hold them on mobile phones and go out for a walk in those meetings – we’re indeed more creative when walking so if you have a creative brainstorm session I’d strongly recommend this be done on the move.

There are many ways we can encourage people in business to get more active – since lock down, we can now have TV parties and all join the same TV show together, get a Joe Wicks going together, or perhaps Cosmic Kids Yoga is more your thing, it doesn’t matter so long as you’re all moving!  

DIET:

As with fitness, diet tends to go out of the window when working from home. Assuming this situation continues for a fair while yet, we will all be leaving the home a little plumper than we entered it back in March.I recommend getting locks on your cupboards, photos of pre-COVID you stuck on the doors, and BUY NOTHING UNHEALTHY!

Companies need to be supporting their people in developing healthy, will power fuelled eating habits that help the mind and body glow rather than slow. Failing to do this may well result in a far less healthy workforce in the long run – one that will cost the company in the long run.

SLEEP:

The vicious cycle of eating well, exercise, and sleep well!If one’s amiss, it’s likely the others will follow. We’ve known for a while that aiming for 6-8 hours of sleep each night helps both our mental and physical health, so it’s important to keep to that when we can. My best advice to those new to working from home is, go to bed and get up like you did when you were in the office. 

It’s easy to allow your evenings to get later and later, for the wine to come out on Monday and Tuesday as well as Wednesday through Friday– no need to worry in the morning as you don’t have to drive anywhere… OK if you don’t care about your mental or physical health, performance at work, and so on… if you do care about any of these things though, it’s important to avoid falling into the late-night, poor sleep temptation trap. Of course, it’s up to you what kind of routine or pattern you follow, and what works for one may not work for others, but it’s important to find the pattern that works for you. Humans are, like many of our animal cousins, routine creatures. Our mental health is supported by holding down some kind of ‘normal’ practice, so doing this will help in keeping your mind and body sane.

This situation is undoubtedly a troubling time for decision-makers across the globe, there is help out there though, take advantage of business consultants ready to share the load such as HR specialists able to advise on people policies and practices, and L&D specialists able to support in creative ways to help your people thrive in this changing and pressured new world.

If you would like to talk through any of the above with our team, call us on 01926 754 085 or email us at hello@warwickhr.com we’re here to help you get through.

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