Every year here at Natural HR, we survey hundreds of HR leaders across the nation in our annual ‘State of HR’ research project.
Back in 2019, 68% of respondents cited recruitment and retention as their biggest priority as they looked ahead to 2020. Clearly, the COVID-19 pandemic put a spanner in the works for many and their hiring plans as non-essential businesses had to close and demand hit an all-time low in some industries.
Topping the list for 2021 is employee health and wellbeing, with 65% of respondents prioritising these initiatives this year. It is easy to see that the impact of COVID-19 has led many HR professionals to re-examine their strategies and the way in which they look after, support and engage their employees.
What is apparent from our recent study is that throughout a challenging year, HR professionals have taken it upon themselves to prioritise employee health and wellbeing in the wake of the pandemic.
In this article, we’ll be sharing just some of the ways that you can use HR software to support health and wellbeing amongst your people. Whether you’re still working from home, have introduced a hybrid working policy or you’re back in the workplace; your HR software can provide a platform for developing a health and wellbeing strategy that meets the changing needs of your team in this ever-changing world of work we find ourselves in.
At a time when the methods or advisory services recommended to employees to support their health and wellbeing in the past may not be available or accessible right now, savvy HR leaders have stepped up to provide wraparound support for their employees throughout lockdown.
But with many employees still working remotely, HR teams, together with senior leadership, have had to devise new ways to maintain meaningful connections with their people, support their health and wellbeing and ensure they don’t become alienated from the business. We’ve seen an abundance of social events on Zoom, quizzes and virtual get-togethers taking place in many businesses, but the health and wellbeing needs of employees demands more than a simple video call.
Remind staff of wellness initiatives
Many employers have a selection of health and wellness initiatives that are offered to employees. From subsidised gym memberships to access to Employee Assistance Programmes and access to platforms like Perkbox; sometimes the simplest way to improve employee health and wellbeing is to remind them of the incentives you already have available.
Whether you do this as part of new starter onboarding or at frequent intervals throughout the year; use your HR software to remind employees of the incentives you have available proactively. Prompt them to regularly remind themselves of the tools they have access to and encourage them to reach out to HR if they are unable to access them, for any reason.
Gather frequent feedback
Together with frequent reminders, you can use your HR software to elicit feedback from your employees on the initiatives that you have introduced and source ideas about other incentives which your employees may value more than any you currently offer.
Create feedback surveys and forms that help you to understand the impact of your existing strategy and where there may be any areas for improvement. Armed with this insight into your employees and their preferences of initiative that best meets their needs; you can design a strategy that responds to your employees’ requirements.
And be sure to regularly gather this feedback to compare your progress and measure the impact of your strategy over time – employees’ lives, situation and wellbeing needs are always changing (take a look at last year, for example!) so your wellbeing strategy needs to adapt in line with these.
Gain insight into employee morale
Similarly, many HR systems offer what is known as an employee or staff pulse survey. These are short, quick surveys that allow you to take a ‘pulse check’ on certain topics such as employee satisfaction, their job role, working environment and much more.
If your organisation is actively using pulse surveys, be sure to ask questions about how your employees are feeling. Do they feel cared for at work? How is their health and wellbeing today? Are the initiatives available for health and wellbeing sufficient?
This data can help you to gather employee sentiments and direct feedback that can help to fuel your health and wellness strategy. Before launching your pulse survey, define what it is you are trying to measure, decide upon the appropriate cadence for the survey to be sent to employees and design questions for your pulse survey that helps to inform your strategy. Be precise, don’t generalise and don’t send surveys just for the sake of it – you risk overloading your employees and your surveys will carry more minor impact.
Communicate regularly with employees
One of the most crucial aspects of any good health and wellbeing strategy is simply telling your employees what you are doing, what is available to them and why it is important to you (and them!). Any changes or updates you make to your strategy or initiatives should be openly communicated with your people. After all, they are the pivotal reason for developing or improving any kind of health and wellbeing strategy.
Furthermore, frequent, open communication between senior leadership and employees can help to distil any feelings of disconnectedness to your business and loneliness. Knowing support, advice and help is there for any employees that may be struggling with their own health and wellbeing can help to maintain a feeling of emotional connection to your business – even if they are still remote.
Use your HR software to send out timely updates and keep them in the loop of any new additions to your strategy. Remind them of the services available for any health and wellbeing issues, post regular updates about the health and wellbeing initiatives you have in place and ensure this is front of mind whenever they are working.