As many businesses embark on a phased return to the office, now is the time for organisations to pay attention to their employees and really listen to what they need.
When the UK went into lockdown on 16th March, we were forced very quickly into a brand-new world. Before the pandemic, it was estimated one sixth of UK workers were experiencing a health issue at any one time – costing businesses between £42-45 billion a year through lost days and reduced productivity. As we emerge from the throes of an isolated and digitised new reality, it’s no wonder our mental health has taken a hit.
According to mental health organisation Unmind, from the outbreak until the beginning of May, 79% of businesses have seen a rise in employee requests for mental health provisions.
Working alone from home, combined with a sense of hyperconnectivity and a blurring of work/life boundaries has thrown the UK’s workforce into a mental health epidemic and employers are having to step in to help.
Add to the mix some vague guidance around things gradually going ‘back to normal’, and it’s no wonder we’re all feeling anxious and uncertain about what the future is going to hold.
Employee wellbeing is an important focus for any organisation. It’s been on the C-suite agenda for years, but as organisations begin a gradual return to the office, understanding how your employees think and feel is of the utmost importance. We’ve never lived through a time like this – so truly listening to how your colleagues feel is going to have benefits in the long run.
It’s also important to acknowledge that this mental health crisis isn’t going away. As we plunge headlong into the worst recession on record, money concerns and job worries are at the forefront of people’s minds. Combine that with a paranoia for contracting the virus and you’ve got a mental health crisis that’s sweeping our entire nation.
So, what can we do? It starts with listening.
It is proven that empathetic listening can be effective when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis. As a mental health survivor, it was key to me overcoming my anxieties and understanding why I was feeling the way I did. Organisations have a right to be there to listen too – to ensure the wellbeing of their workforce and future productivity – and right now it’s paramount to ensuring the best possible productivity of your workforce.
So, what would we suggest?
Now is the time for us to pause, regroup and plan for what’s next. Stopping and listening to how your workforce is feeling will be crucial in setting up your business for the future, as well as allowing employees to feel recognised and supported too.
Take the Acid Test
Using structured qualitative research with a cross-sample of your workforce, AB’s Acid Test audit identifies communication gaps within organisations. Communication gaps that are key now, more than ever before, to uncover and fix. In many ways, it is a privileged peak inside the mind of your organisation, providing valuable insight to help you create a robust plan for the future.
Allowing people at all levels to feel heard and understood is central to our approach and allows us to uncover invaluable insight that an engagement survey could never deliver.
Your employees always want to feel listened to – now is the time to do it.