The COVID-19 pandemic reshaped the way many of us work, prompting organisations around the world to embrace remote work and hybrid working models.
Whilst those affected continue to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of these changes (and those that aren’t in roles that can be done remotely roll their eyes at the whole ‘debate’) the landscape is changing again.
With the recent news that Nike intends to join companies such as Apple, Tesla and Amazon in pushing a ‘return to the office’ agenda, questions should be asked about the future of corporate employee wellbeing programs.
As a HR Director, it’s imperative to consider the implications and adapt your corporate employee wellbeing initiatives to meet the evolving needs of the workforce.
Benchmark your company with a personalised wellness scorecard – here.
The Post-COVID Workplace Landscape
Before delving into the specifics of corporate employee wellbeing programs, let’s first understand the current workplace landscape. The pandemic ushered in remote work and hybrid models, granting employees newfound flexibility and work-life balance. Employees got accustomed to more control over their schedules, reduced commutes, and the comfort of their home office.
However, as organisations encourage (or in some cases force) employees to return to the office, it’s essential to navigate this transition with sensitivity to the physical and emotional wellbeing of the workforce.
Here’s what it means for your corporate employee wellbeing program:
Mental Health Support
The return to the office can trigger anxiety and stress for employees who grew accustomed to remote work. Your wellbeing program should place a significant focus on mental health support, providing resources for managing workplace anxiety and adjustment.
With hybrid work models on the rise, corporate wellbeing programs should be flexible too. Employees might be in the office part-time and remote part-time, so consider offering a wellness provision that can support employees wherever they may be and accommodates their changing needs. Consider Hussle as an option.
In-office work might reduce the sedentary nature of remote work, but it’s still essential to promote physical health. Consider office-based fitness initiatives and ergonomic assessments to ensure employees are comfortable and active at their desks.
Nutrition and Wellbeing
As employees return to the office, consider offering healthy food options in the workplace and fostering a culture of wellbeing, encouraging employees to prioritise their health.
The office environment can help foster social connections, but it might also create stress for those re-adapting to in-person interactions. Corporate employee wellbeing programs can include social events, team-building activities, and mental health support for navigating these changes.
Employees might be hesitant about returning to the office due to concerns about maintaining a work-life balance. Wellbeing programs should continue to emphasise the importance of this balance and provide tools to achieve it.
Regularly assess the needs and preferences of your workforce through surveys and feedback to adapt the corporate wellbeing program accordingly. You can benchmark your company using the Hussle wellness scorecard here.
Navigating Employee Resistance
It’s important to acknowledge that not all employees will be eager to return to the office, and some might resist the change for very good reasons. This is where a well-designed corporate wellbeing program can play a crucial role. As HR Director, consider the following strategies:
Clearly communicate the reasons for returning to the office, whatever they may be at your organisation. Employees will see through and likely resist arbitrary mandates but may be more inclined to be supportive if the reasons are clearly explained and the intended benefits are well articulated.
Offer flexible work arrangements when possible, such as hybrid work models or flexible hours, to help employees ease into the transition whilst respecting their personal circumstances.
Encourage the formation of support networks among employees who are returning to the office, allowing them to share experiences and advice.
Offer workshops or training sessions on stress management, communication skills, and conflict resolution to help employees re-adapt to the office environment.
Ensure that your wellbeing program resources are readily accessible for both in-office and any remaining remote employees.
Establish a feedback system where employees can express their concerns, needs, and suggestions for improving the return-to-office process and corporate wellbeing programs.
The Role of Leadership
As the HR Director, you also have a responsibility to lead by example and you should ensure that the rest of the leadership team understand their role in demonstrating their personal ‘return to office’ journey.
As part of this process, you should promote the corporate wellbeing program and actively participate in its offerings, whether it’s wellness challenges, mental health webinars, or fitness activities. Demonstrating your commitment to employee wellbeing can inspire confidence in the initiatives you’re implementing around ‘return to the office’.
The post-COVID return to the office presents an opportunity for organisations to re-evaluate and adapt their corporate wellbeing programs. It’s a time to listen to employees’ concerns, provide support, and ensure that the transition is as smooth and stress-free as possible.
The days of ‘box ticking’ a list of standard benefits is long gone. Your corporate wellbeing progam needs to continue to adapt accordingly.
As a HR Director, you can play a pivotal role in shaping the future of work, one that prioritises the wellbeing of your employees. By offering flexible, comprehensive, and adaptive corporate wellbeing programs, you can create a workplace that is both productive and caring, enabling employees to thrive in this new era of work.
Find out how Hussle can support you in giving the best corporate gym membership in a package that will foster a healthier, more positive workplace culture across your organisation.