After living under the threat of the virus for so long while dealing with the uncertainties of several lockdowns, the world is finally opening back. With more and more people getting vaccinated, things are feeling calmer. organisations which undertook employee vaccination programs could finish the process for all employees by December. With this, chances are that most companies will want their employees back in their offices.
The nature of work and workplaces will have to be reimagined, redefined. Everything from the number of employees brought back to work, to the number of days a week they need to be in a physical space together, to the benefits companies offer. Everything will have to be evaluated. Employers will have to bring employee wellness to the core of their work cultures alongside productivity. If the pandemic has shown the world anything, it’s that mental, physical, and emotional health need priority and should not be left as an after-thought. The ability of organisations to uphold and nurture such factors will define the new workplace.
Beyond work and productivity
In the pandemic, workplace stress, anxiety, and burnout became important conversations. While some companies offered their employees a whole week of paid time off, others have reworked their work-week permanently.
In the larger scheme of things, these are radical changes and many companies have taken concrete measures to help their people combat burnout. For the success of any company, the focus of work policies needs to be more than just about productivity. It needs to be about overall employee wellness.
Today, companies need to look beyond leaves and flexible working hours. It has to be acknowledged that we’re living in an unequal world. Generalised solutions and benefits that worked well before will no longer make sense at workplaces for the mere reason that every employee is now juggling unique lifestyles. This means organisations will have to expand their investments and resources in developing people strategies. A few ways of doing that would be providing professional mental health consultation and enabling employees to achieve physical fitness goals, among other things. Companies should also train their managerial staff to be more sensible and empathetic with coworkers, especially junior team members, so that everyone together is able to nurture a professional, positive and cheerful workplace.
According to Microsoft’s Work Trend Index global survey, 41% of respondents across 31 countries are considering leaving their current employer this year. An IBM report on what employees want in 2021 found that more than 50% of employees want a work-life balance, Now, these are industry reports that give us an overview of possible grey areas, but every company must take cues from these and relook at their people-wellness through a microlens to identify gaps and take necessary steps.
Of the many things the pandemic taught people, one key lesson was the value of their life, beyond work, beyond any social obligation. This is a lesson employees will bring with them to the workplace. As the world crawls back into normalcy, the new normal will have to be according to the demands of the new world. From now on, employee wellness, their health needs, their lives have to be factored into the decisions any company makes. It’s a lesson each company has to remember for the future of work to look brighter.