Wednesday 8th December 2021
The Great Resignation and employee well-being

Employee well-being is now a critical issue, and it’s a major factor driving the Great Resignation. In an era of record quit rates and reshuffling of jobs, how employees feel about their working lives has never been more openly discussed.

At the same time, increased flexibility in how businesses operate is becoming more and more commonplace. This has allowed some employees to address their well-being challenges – in particular, how work impacts on their personal lives – but it’s clear that much more needs to be done.

In this blog, we’ll underline the importance of employee well-being in the business world of today, explore how flexible work can help, and investigate why remote working isn’t necessarily the golden ticket solution.

Well-being in numbers

First of all, it’s important to truly appreciate the scale of the issue. This is not something that’s only being felt in particular industries or at specific businesses where the culture is especially poor: it’s far more widespread than that.

The 2021 Mental Health At Work Report, recently released by Mind Share Partners, highlights some facts that are worrying at face value. Of the employees surveyed, 84% reported at least one workplace factor negatively impacting their mental health. Half of full-time American workers have left a previous job due to a mental health issue, rising to 81% among Generation Zers who are the newest entrants into the labor market. And all this affects employers, too:

on average, employees feel they’ve only been operating at 72% of their full productivity this past year.

The good news, however, is that businesses are increasingly aware of the situation and are taking steps to support their workforce better. The time employers provide for therapy during the workday has increased by 300%, and the number of companies offering longer or more frequent breaks has risen by 550%.

Flexible work supporting mental health

Employees who don’t have to face the commute or be committed to the nine-to-five find their new-found flexibility is hugely beneficial for their overall well-being. A report on employee well-being recently published by Glint has found that employees who are satisfied with the flexibility available to them are:

  • 4x more likely to successfully balance work and personal obligations
  • 6x more likely to be happy working for their employer
  • 1x more likely to recommend working for their employer

These employees are also finding they’re getting more done in their days: 60% report being just as productive at home as they are in the office. But despite this, there are still 20% of employees who don’t have flexibility in where they work, meaning they’re either fully office-based or fully remote.

Just because someone doesn’t work in the office any more doesn’t automatically mean they’re happy.

Better well-being with a flexible office

To many employers who have fully embraced flexible working, the physical office environment may now seem pretty redundant. But nothing could be further from the truth: it still has a vital role to play in supporting collaboration, socialization and relationship-building in ways that just can’t be achieved on video calls.

It can’t be emphasized enough how important these factors are in promoting good employee well-being. Remote working has its upsides, but it isn’t for everyone: some people suffer from the isolation of being cooped up at home all the time, while others live in small (often shared) apartments and houses which just aren’t practical for focused, stress-free work. Giving them the option of working from the office, and conversing with their co-workers face-to-face, can be vital in removing any stress or worry from their working days.

It’s also worth considering the value the office can represent as a support hub. Putting support programs and communication structures are all well and good, but they’re useless if people who need help don’t feel comfortable having difficult discussions over Microsoft Teams or Zoom. People often just need a friendly and supportive face to talk to, in person and in privacy, and the office is the natural location where that should take place.

Ultimately, every employee is different, and each will have their own motivations, their own personal worries and their own circumstances in life. That’s why a cookie-cutter approach to flexible work – where employees work from home or the office on pre-set days – is the wrong approach. Whatever arrangements are put in place, there will always be some people disadvantaged by them.

The best way to implement flexible work is therefore through a choice-driven model. Give people freedom to decide where and when they work, and what they want to use the office for, and every employee wins.

What’s more, as happy workers are more productive workers, employers win, too.

Research report: Attitudes to Hybrid Working.

Attitudes to Hybrid Working Report

The impact of hybrid work on employees and employers.

Download our research to get the full picture.

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