by Ian Kirby

The ‘world of work’ as we know it has undergone a tremendous change over the last two years, fuelled by the necessity for staff to forgo the workplace and work from home to safeguard their health and that of others.

However, as we emerge from the crisis, we are seeing a return to a different workplace from the one we left, if some people are even returning to offices at all. With some staff now fully based at home (WFH), or working around a flexible hybrid model of part-time working from home and part-time working in the office, or solely working from the office, this in turn is having an impact on a company’s ability to ensure their work populace’s welfare.

So how do we navigate this shift to prioritise staff’s health and wellbeing, to ensure that we embrace a positive culture change for the benefit of all employees?

Mind over matter

Gone are the days when leaving a bowl of fresh fruit in the staff kitchen was deemed suitable enough to keep employees happy. Rather than approaching health and wellbeing as a tick-box exercise, this needs to be ingrained into a company’s ethos to successfully create a culture change, and that goes all the way to the top. If employers don’t embrace changes, how can they expect their employees too, or expect the change to be effective?

A safe space for health and wellbeing

Some people really thrived on the ability to work from home, however not all enjoyed the experience, with it negatively impacting their mental health. With many staff still working from home across different locations, and often on different projects, there is a danger of feeling isolated. This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, held in May, focused on loneliness, and the impact this can have on our health and wellbeing.

If your staff are still largely WFH, businesses need to carefully consider how to ensure staff continue to feel connected to each other and the company, to avoid feeling disengaged. Hosting online sessions, through Zoom and Teams, can create a positive environment, providing staff with the opportunity to raise their mental health concerns, or their worries of the wellbeing of others in their team. This will go a long way to ensuring that employees feel seen and heard, even with the physical distance in place.

Take time to listen

Some businesses instead took the more hard-line approach of requesting all staff to return to office working, just as it was pre-Covid. However, this can negatively affect employee’s mental health, if they feel that they are being ‘forced’ to return, and much preferred working from home. Addressing the perspectives of the employees, rather than adopting a ‘one size fits all’ approach, will help with staff retention and productivity levels.

Change is going to come

Of course, a culture change is not going to happen overnight. It will take time for changes to be implemented and embraced, until it is just as much a part of the business as any other strategy, process or actions. Being able to measure staff happiness levels, such as through internal surveys, against KPIs, will be able to show what is working and what is not, so a company can continue to adapt to best suit their employees and their wellbeing.

Importantly too, it’s not just staff happiness that’s at stake. Customer satisfaction levels need to be kept front of mind too. This has always been a challenge of course, even in pre-Covid times. Now however, post-Covid, in many cases, there’s a real need now to think differently about how to maintain consistency and performance when it comes to customer service too, particularly in the light of new forms of working.

At C.Co, our team of change management experts can help organisations to navigate the minefield that the working situation has become for health and wellbeing. We can support you with your policy, processes and people. This will allow you to continue to achieve your goals, whilst ensuring that the positive health and wellbeing of your staff is not lost or forgotten, preventing unhealthy levels of stress all round.

Contact us to see how C.Co can assist with creating a culture change in your company for a happier and healthier workforce,  leading to a more effective and efficient organisation and a more satisfied customer base.