The top 5 things employees want for their wellbeing

The last few years have been really challenging, but adapting through necessity has shown us new ways of working that can be just as effective. Despite the stresses of lockdowns, we’ve seen some benefits to our working environments which have fuelled positive changes for employee wellbeing.

Happier employees are likely to perform better, take fewer sick days and result in a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Happier employees are also likely to stay with your business longer and attract other employees of the same disposition.

This International Stress Awareness Week acts as a timely reminder to ensure wellbeing services are successfully embedded within your business. 61% report that the pandemic has had an overall negative affect on their wellbeing - so how can businesses play their part in reducing workplace stress?

Bupa UK’s Workplace Wellbeing Census has revealed the top five things that employees want from their employers over the next year:

1. Opportunity for remote working

Our research shows that employees want the opportunity to continue working from home beyond the pandemic. Around one in four workers would prefer a hybrid workweek model offering a mix of remote and in-office time, with women having a stronger preference on this versus men.

This strong preference is rooted in the wellbeing benefits of working from home - 79% of respondents agreed that it’s benefitted their wellbeing. Almost fourth fifths of younger respondents aged between 25 and 34 want to have the option to work from home once the pandemic is over.

2. Flexible working hours

Being able to adapt the working day can make a real difference for employees, helping them to stay on top of other commitments, make time for further learning and improve work-life balance. 38% of employees would value more flexibility in terms of working hours and patterns.

Working flexibly can also take the stress out of commuting, allowing employees to travel at quieter times – 37% of employees surveyed said that having no commute helped to enhance their wellbeing.

Don’t forget that flexible working can be a source of stress for some employees - especially for those who find it difficult to switch off, or separate the working day ending from home life. Encourage your team to be open with you and work with them to develop good habits, from time management, delegation, saying no if you need to, and taking adequate breaks.

3. More emphasis on mental health support

As a manager, there are several ways to support your team’s wellbeing if you’re not all under the same office roof. Having regular team calls can help to nurture a sense of team spirit and make people feel more connected.

Frequent check-ins keep open channels of communication and can help managers to spot when members of the team might be struggling with their workload or personal lives.

Only half of employees who struggle with mental health issues feel comfortable enough to bring it up with their employer. If you notice that a member of your team is showing signs of poor mental health, such as being easily distracted, feeling overwhelmed, or being irritable and short-tempered, be sure to check in with them.

Six in 10 employees say that they value the wellbeing services that are offered by their employer, however 73% of workers would like to see further additions to wellbeing policies. Think about investing in health insurance, health assessments and Employee Assistance Programmes.

4. Flexible hours for parents and carers

The formal 9-5 working pattern can be stressful for people with caring responsibilities. In fact, 27% of people surveyed agreed that more flexibility is something that they’d like in the future.

Allowing employees to compress or extend their working hours, job share or simply make work ‘asynchronous’ (when people on the same team work at different times of the day) can be especially beneficial for women, too. Research shows that flexible working is key to attracting and retaining top talent, especially for those with childcare commitments.

5. Initiatives to boost staff morale

40% of employees surveyed said they’d like to see more wellbeing initiatives at work. This can include line manager and resilience training. If you already have this covered, think about how you can introduce further initiatives to transfer these initiatives within a hybrid working environment – perhaps you could introduce workplace wellbeing champions, online yoga or pilates sessions, or volunteering days.

Using this approach can help to support your team’s wellbeing and boost morale, leading to a more settled, productive and healthier, happier workforce.