Despite many workers being furloughed or working from home, the ‘always on’ cultures in many workplaces are exacerbating both presenteeism and leaveism, as outlined by my colleague, Gill Adams, here. It’s just one of the reasons why organisations should never underestimate the importance of health and wellbeing in the workplace.
Two separate pieces of research by Deloitte Global and WorkLife reveal the current situation when it comes to current workplace sentiment among women and the top concerns facing SMEs at present.
A survey by Deloitte Global recently found that just 31% of UK women believe they have a good work-life balance. In other words, 69% of UK women believe their work-life balance is bad. What’s perhaps most startling about this revelation is that prior to the coronavirus pandemic, 71% of UK women believed they had a good work-life balance.
The survey, entitled Women @ work: a global outlook, also found that more than three-quarters (76%) of UK women said their workload had increased since the pandemic. Furthermore, half of all respondents said their relationship with their employer had suffered as a result of changing their working hours to manage increased caring responsibilities.
Six out of 10 women polled said their employer hadn’t provided sufficient support for them since the beginning of the pandemic, while 44% of women said their career wasn’t progressing as fast as they would like.
Jackie Henry, managing partner of people and purpose at Deloitte UK, said: “The survey findings are a stark reflection of the reality, responsibilities and wellbeing of working women in the UK and what needs to be done to reverse the pandemic’s disproportionate affects on this group of people.”
Meanwhile, WorkLife by OpenMoney’s latest Small Business Monitor report has revealed the top agenda items among UK SMEs, with keeping employees safe from Covid-19 (cited by 28%) and workers' mental wellbeing (cited by 26%) topping the list.
WorkLife's report also showed that SMEs are concerned about the long-term effects of the Covid pandemic on their employees. Indeed, 21% of companies polled said they were worried about helping their employees manage the long-term impact of the pandemic on their personal finances, while the same percentage said they were concerned about helping employees manage the long-term mental health impacts of the pandemic.
A fifth of SMEs said the challenge of keeping workers engaged as they moved to work remotely more permanently was troubling them.
Commenting on the survey’s findings, WorkLife by OpenMoney director Steve Bee said that despite the challenges SMEs are facing, there is recognition that employee wellbeing is an essential part of their future success strategies. However, he added that it will take time for these firms to invest in elements such as staff rewards.
"But it isn't things like one-off bonuses that are going to make the real difference here, which is why firms should be looking further afield at smaller, more meaningful ways they can give workers a helping hand over the coming months. For example, offering access to financial advice can help with managing stress and other mental health concerns. Meanwhile, perks like retail discounts could offer a vital lifeline to some people - particularly among those who may have been furloughed or had hours cut during lockdown," Bee said.
The importance of health and wellbeing in the workplace has become a major agenda item for many organisations. Going forward, it is crucial that firms understand all the options available to them and their employees, so they are in the best position possible to support their staff.