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Six months on…employee wellbeing is being tested

How are employees coping as the pandemic and uncertainty continues?

Who would have thought that six months on, we’d still be in some form of lockdown and restrictions while working from home and largely isolated from our colleagues and workplaces.

A few months ago, we analysed thousands of employee responses to our In-Touch pulse survey which a variety of organisations were undertaking to make sense of employee wellbeing and experience during the COVID-19 pandemic and remote working. Overall, people were feeling the pinch, but they remained fairly positive about facing the challenges ahead.

We’ve taken another good look at the data to compare the current lockdown to the first lockdown. Our findings confirm our hunch that employee wellbeing has taken a huge hit, with scores and agreement dropping away significantly from the earlier data.

In fact, each of the ten domains we measure as part of the In-Touch survey are performing worse than earlier in the pandemic – perhaps not surprising but nonetheless concerning.

So what can we learn from this? How can we help organisations get across the line – however far away that line might be? It’s not enough to sing out “stay positive” and “we’ve got this”. It’s tough, it’s been tough for a long time, longer than anyone expected, and for many, the light at the end of the tunnel is out of reach.

The results – employee wellbeing has taken a big hit

Employee wellbeing scores have fallen considerably compared to earlier in the pandemic.

employee wellbeing logo

       “I am optimistic about what the future holds at work” is down from 76% favourable to 63%

       “I am feeling positive” has dropped from 79% favourable to 69%

       “I feel I am making progress at work this week” is down from 73% favourable to 63%

These are worrying indicators that employees are struggling to stay positive and hopeful about the future.

These sentiments should be a huge red flag for any organisation and only cement the importance of checking in and staying close to your people. The findings also highlight why it’s vital to be open and transparent in your organisation-wide communication about current and future plans – even if you’re still not sure what those are.

The good and the bad – what are people saying?

“Provide some indication of potential outcomes for staff in the long term.  Where will the organisation be in 12/18/24 months? What does the modelling tell us? Will jobs still be secure?”

“Communication and daily check ins from our team manager and whole team have been fantastic for staying connected during WFH.”

“I think if possible some level of clarity on what the new normal would look like for us. I appreciate its largely unknown but if there are some knowns it may be an idea to start communicating those.”

“Management are supporting staff and encouraging self care – so thank you!”

“Include staff in the decision making process so they are better informed and given options”

OK. So what can we do to improve wellbeing?

While there are many different challenges for us all in the current environment, it’s important to maintain a level of optimism and positivity as we navigate to a post COVID-19 world.

Here are some tips to help improve employee wellbeing, based on the findings:

1. Focus on the things that you have control over

Like Stephen Covey talked about all those years ago (1989), thinking about and acting on parts of our life where we have control (influence), will help us to feel more optimistic and positive about our lives and what’s ahead.

For example, instead of worrying about being in lockdown (which is something beyond our control) focus on what you can control in your life, such as how you structure your work hours, now that many of us are still working flexibly from home. Having a sense of control in this way, can help alleviate that stress or unhappiness we might feel about being in lockdown.

2. Exercise is a great all-round way to improve your wellbeing

Try and get out and enjoy 30 minutes a day if you can. If you find that too difficult, consider shorter breaks throughout the day and structure them into your calendar or set an alarm reminder so that you actually stick to it. Organisations can encourage this by communicating the importance of exercise and or by offering weekly online exercise sessions that staff can choose to attend.

Here at Insync, we’re spurring each other on with a 10,000 steps per day teams challenge. We’re committing to walks or runs every day while enjoying some friendly competitive fun along the way – both of which are positively impacting our wellbeing.

3. Try practicing mindfulness or meditation

A significant amount of research suggests that mindfulness is a great activity to improve your mental health. Mindfulness or meditation is a learned skill in being present, aware and fully engaged with whatever we’re doing in the moment. It can decrease stress, reduce anxiety and bring about a sense of calm.

In today’s day and age we are spoilt for choice in terms of apps and websites that can guide us in how to do this. Smiling Mind and Headspace are just two of the more commonly used here in Australia. Give it a go, you might surprise yourself!

4. Talk to your colleagues

Ask them what are they doing to stay positive and optimistic? We all do different things and it might be that they have a great idea you haven’t thought of! Organisations can also encourage this by getting everyone to share their tips in team meetings.

5. Tick off that list!

Feeling a sense of progress in what you are doing at work can also really help with wellbeing. Consider putting together a daily or weekly to do list on a new set of stationery and tick things off as you go. This is a great way to see progress and keep you feeling motivated and achievement oriented while working in the different ways that COVID-19 has imposed upon us.

Check in with your employees’ wellbeing

Our team of psychologists developed our In-Touch employee pulse tool to measure and track the factors most impacted by COVID-19 including:

  • Social isolation / connectedness – many people working remotely
  • Wellbeing – employees feeling healthy and happy are also being impacted through different working arrangements or a perceived lack of job security
  • Trust – the level of trust employees feel towards their employers is being impacted currently, particularly if regular honest and open communication is not forthcoming
  • Job satisfaction – employees feeling satisfied with their jobs may be impacted due to various changes at work from the current situation
  • POS (Perceived Organisational Support)employees may be feeling less supported particularly if working circumstances have changed
  • Teamwork – many teams are now working remotely, so this is important to understand the impact on teams
  • Resilience – being able to manage difficult and unknown situations at work is being impacted upon by the current scenario
  • Role clarity – changes to how people are working can impact on clarity if not managed appropriately through clarity of expectations
  • Supervisor / Manager support – team leaders providing enough of the right kind of support in these different ways of working is crucial to employee wellbeing, productivity and job satisfaction

The survey is real-time and hosted by Insync, so it empowers employees to be honest and candid about how they’re feeling right now.

Learn more about measuring employee wellbeing

Talk to us today about how you can reach out and connect with your people with our In-Touch tool.

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