It might seem a strange comparison to make, yet less time and attention is given to health and wellbeing than it is to profit and loss, logistics, or even learning and development. If we’re going to be frank about it, most people wouldn’t even think to compare the two. To me, that’s always been a bit of anathema and counterintuitive to the longer term commercial interests of a business.
In the UK, the services economy is predominant. The quality of economic output of the country is therefore dependent on the quality of the work by employees. Logically, retaining and securing business is then built upon maintaining that high level of quality over a period of time. Reliable business partners producing quality on time and to standard time after time are the people we want to work with. How do you get there? Your employees. To put that another way, in the aviation sector, immense amounts of time and care are devoted to maintaining aircraft. That’s because the alternative is a grounded plane that hampers profits and increases costs while the plane is grounded and repaired. You see where I’m going.
The effects of the pandemic have thrown a new perspective onto working practices. Far from ease the pressure on health and wellbeing, it increases it. Greater flexible working brings new challenges that need to be accounted for. Revolut, is considering plans to let staff work abroad for 2 months of the year while the UK Civil Service is in the process of opening a further 13 regional hubs across the UK on top of the existing four. With more and more people working remotely, tracking those symptoms of stress, bullying and overwork becomes even harder. Gone are those obvious cues when you’re working next to someone, replaced instead with a video call and an instant messaging app. Employees might be commuting less and find it easier and cheaper to get lunch. At the same time, the personal contact with colleagues is lost, we are more isolated and potentially feeling obliged to work longer, unhealthier and less efficient hours.
Yes, remote working does offer benefits, but it’s not a panacea. Employers need to be more engaged and more aware of what their workforce think and feel. As importantly, they also need to know how they can improve that. Breakfast apples and yoga at lunch is great, but there is more to do. My experience has typically been that most businesses are surprised that with the right data driven approach, it is easier to identify the issue and then resolve it. They are even more surprised that it really can be a small investment compared with the potential pay offs in terms of fewer sick days, increased efficiencies and lower employee turnover to name but a few benefits. Employees are what drive profits. It’s time we understood that healthier workers can equal a healthier bottom line.