For most Canadians, it’s been well over a year since most of the country went into its first lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. I don’t think we truly understood what was going to happen back in March 2020, or the impact it would have on our personal and professional lives.
But during the 15th month of the global pandemic, we can see some light at the end of the tunnel and are starting to focus on what work is going to look like in the new normal. In the past, there was a reluctance to implement formal work-from-home policies, or give employees carte blanche to decide when to work from home and when to come to the office, but now, more organizations are open to greater flexibility, permanently.
These 15 months and counting have been a forced study that’s proven employees can be productive while working from home. Both employers and employees have seen, and felt, the benefits. But, as we think about the lessons learned, it’s important to ensure that in our new post-pandemic normal, we don’t let the work experience continue to feel like we’re living at work.
By that I mean, while there’s been benefits to our shift to remote work, there’s also many challenges, such as establishing a dedicated workspace in the home, balancing child care and establishing boundaries between work and personal life. There’s also been challenges with employees feeling stuck and isolated resulting in employers worrying about employee well-being and productivity.
This malaise or pandemic fatigue was, and is, a very real cause for concern. The pandemic has truly shone a light on the importance of employee well-being and resilience, as well as the importance of recreating a work environment at home that supports employees in the ways that they would be supported in a traditional office setting.
With this in mind, incorporating well-being into your overall rewards strategy should now be a priority. Investment in employee well-being and resilience can benefit an organization in many ways by enabling employee engagement, as well as commitment to work and business performance. In contrast, low mental resilience is associated with slower recovery from physical or mental challenges, which can translate to higher costs for absenteeism and lower productivity. Employees with lower resilience are less likely to rebound from an off day and stay focused on their goals.
Offering employees well-being programs, such as resilience training for stress management and enhanced emotional counselling, can become an advantage for employers looking to brand their organization as an employer of choice.
Well-being offerings can also help employees build personal resilience that augments their capacity to manage stress, challenges and change and equips them to better manage their physical and mental health and improve their performance at work.
Investing in resilience training may even translate into improved business performance. Resilience training gives employees the tools they need to sustain focus, energy and productivity. It empowers them to succeed under pressure and enhances their capacity for flexibility, creativity and innovation.
As employers announce their plans for the future, they need to prepare the ideal environment for employees and their businesses to continue to grow and succeed. Preparing for this shift in advance is a great way for employers to ensure they don’t miss out on the chance to thrive in the new world yet to come once lockdowns end for good.