It’s time to put employees’ welfare first – and here’s how…

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“the emotional and mental health of their workforce is a factor organisations can no longer afford to ignore.”

The great return to work is underway – and for many, it represents a welcome resumption of something approaching normality. But for many others, it is a source of anxiety and distress. While many employees have found working at the kitchen table surrounded by cereal boxes, toys and dipping wifi tricky, others have found the experience calming and reassuring, or have enjoyed the extra time for family and leisure. For them, the idea of commuting into the office is, at best, unattractive, and at worst, frightening.
A recent study from the Limeade Institute revealed that 100% of employees surveyed – who were previously working on-site pre-pandemic, but are currently working from home – had some anxiety about returning to work. For many of these people, there is a very real risk of burnout – physical, mental and emotional exhaustion caused by prolonged stress.
Kooth, the digital mental health platform, reported a 54% increase in their service users who said that their mental health had severely impaired their ability to work during the pandemic.
Kooth’s report into work anxiety states that “the emotional and mental health of their workforce is a factor organisations can no longer afford to ignore.” Stress leads to absenteeism, reduced productivity and reduced retention rates. Pre-pandemic, stress cost UK businesses an estimated £45 billion-a-year – a figure that will surely rise in the post-pandemic confusion.

Employers need to be mindful of their staff’s mental and physical welfare

Karen Meager and John McLachlan, organisational psychologists and co-founders of Monkey Puzzle Training and Consultancy, caution that employers need to be mindful of their staff’s mental and physical welfare. “Employee wellbeing has rightly featured highly on the agenda for organisations over the past year and this is something that certainly needs to continue as we navigate the post-covid workplace.”
Employee wellbeing is all the more important as businesses face up to what is being termed “The Great Resignation”. Faced with the prospects of returning to work, an estimated 41% of employees are planning to leave their jobs this year. In short, employers need to step up to the plate, and show their employees that their needs are being met.
“Looking out for signs of potential distress and anxiety, and addressing them effectively and with compassion, will help ensure all employees receive (and feel they are getting) the support they need,” suggests Kooth’s report.

This is where organisations like buddyboost have a vital role to play.
buddyboost is a proven employee wellbeing tool, using a simple challenge format to help improve physical health, mental health and create a sense of camaraderie among colleagues. Employees download the bespoke app and commit to doing at least 26 minutes of activity every day for 26 days in a month. They form into virtual groups of buddies to help and motivate one another, and everyone stays in touch on the app’s private feed, posting messages and photos, boosting engagement and fostering team spirit.
The physical and mental benefits of the exercise, combined with the sense of camaraderie from the social interactions, has been shown to have a significant boost to the mood of participants, via a score which they register after each activity. In fact, the data from thousands of participants shows that on average people get a 25% mood boost after doing their activity.

More and more organisations are finding that buddyboost’s unique format is helping their employees to feel better and more positive, and crucially, to feel that their employer is looking after them. This autumn, buddyboost is working with a diverse and extensive collection of organisations to help their employees both physically and mentally. Here are just a few of them:
In September, over 40 businesses in took part in the Plymouth Active Workplace challenge. Everyone from Engineering companies, Universities, Solicitors, teachers from Primary schools and the local Council got involved.

October sees second challenges for Stagecoach and West Berkshire Council, who have come back for more following incredible results and feedback first time around. (You can see more about Stagecoach’s successful spring challenge here.) And staff and students from Bolton University and their partner colleges will be getting underway soon (once they’ve got over Freshers’ week!) Digital marketing agency Fresh Egg and software company Arcus Global are also coming back for more, following successful challenges earlier in the year.
These forward-thinking organisations are looking after their employees, and sending a message that they are progressive and caring places to work. Amidst all of the uncertainties of the return to work and the putative ‘Great Resignation’, they are doing all they can to ensure that they will ride out the storm and embrace the future with a contented and healthy workforce.

To find out how you can improve your employees wellbeing drop us a message below. Or read more here.

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