` Prioritise employee wellbeing to ensure a workforce that embraces change | Reward and Employee Benefits Association (REBA)
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26 Apr 2022
by Burcu Ulucay

Prioritise employee wellbeing to ensure a workforce that embraces change

The corporate agenda spotlight will be on three issues this year, and employers that address them effectively will be future-proofed in the face of unexpected challenges

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Two and a half years on, the pandemic is no longer front and centre; however, there is no doubt that it has taken a heavy toll on the health and overall state of wellbeing of the global workforce. We may have lost much during this period, but the silver lining is that the pandemic acted as a positive driver for both personal and corporate change. We have adapted to the new normal and even improved our capacity to stay connected. We were able to transition to remote and hybrid working models overnight, something that had previously been unimaginable. The sudden transition to working from home may have created challenges but the fact is that hybrid working is here to stay, with recruiter Robert Half finding one out of three workers (33%) willing to quit their current job if they are not allowed to work remotely at least partly. 

Given the new normal of the corporate world, it is high time to take stock and think about the obstacles impeding your employees from enhancing their lives and fostering their wellbeing. We believe that the corporate agenda spotlight will be on three issues this year, and employers that address them effectively will be future-proofed in the face of unexpected challenges. 

1) Social wellbeing and mental health in the workplace 
The need to physically distance when the pandemic was in full swing impacted social relationships and led some to feel isolated and lonely. The lack of face-to-face connection was exacerbated by increasing workplace stress, blurring lines between work and home commitments, and uncertainty about the future, all of which left many people grappling with mental health illnesses. 

In the first year of the pandemic alone, the global prevalence of anxiety and depression increased by 25%, according to the World Health Organization. While one in seven people were experiencing mental health problems in the workplace, according to data from the UK’s Mental Health Foundation. 

Some measures to prevent mental health problems include raising awareness about the importance of mental health, using feedback mechanisms such as surveys and sentiment analysis tools to listen to employees, getting leadership buy-in for corporate wellbeing, and leveraging the power of the online world to provide wellbeing solutions that are widely accessible. Workplace cultures that encourage camaraderie and meaningful social interactions among colleagues create a win-win situation for employees and businesses as your company’s wellbeing is inseparable from the wellbeing of your employees. 

2) Agile and human-centric change management 
How do we build a new practice of change management when change is happening non-stop? Traditional strategies are unable to compete with the unprecedented pace of change. Employers need to reinvent their ways of doing business around more agile, quick, and mostly virtual practices. Declaring the need for organisational change in a pandemic-stricken workforce may not be easy, though. You may come across resistance to change and will need to support your employees to strengthen their adaptability muscles. 

Communicating the reasons for change to your employees is a crucial step to getting them onboard the change train. Gallup’s Work Experience Communication Survey found that when leaders make it clear how the change will affect their organisation in the future, employees are much more likely to be engaged and thriving and less likely to feel burned out. In the phase of shifting to a more inclusive, agile, and human-centric change management, involving employees in decision-making processes and embracing a “try-learn-iterate” approach are two modifications that will significantly accelerate the process. 

3) Highlighting diversity, equity, and inclusion every step of the way
Hybrid work environments are heralding a new diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) challenge among two potentially unequal categories: employees who work on site and employees who work remotely. Ensuring a level playing field and being wary of any intentional or unconscious biases are key to creating a sustainable culture of inclusion from recruiting and hiring, to engagement and development. 

Integration between DEI policies and the workplace culture provides an environment where every voice is welcomed, regardless of location, distance, and personal differences.  The report released by consultancy firm Accenture points toward a potential link between diversity and innovation. Workplaces with a strong culture of equality were five times more likely to have an innovation mindset than those with less equal cultures. When ensured that they can be themselves at work without any fear of being humiliated and marginalised, employees were found to be more likely to apply their best selves to their work. 

Bringing these themes together, the Wellbees LOOP Summit 2022 is now fast approaching. We will be gathering this Thursday with HR leaders and professionals, in person at LOOP 2022, to listen to speakers and take part in discussions about social wellbeing at work, change management, and DEI as the accelerants of corporate cultural transformations. Check out our full agenda, and register to join us in person or virtually on 28 April. 

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