Great engagement is the key to success in the workplace

As we move through 2021 after the turmoil of doing business in a region where 2020 was one of seemingly perpetual lockdown, there is a growing realisation that while vaccinations may pave the way out of lockdown, things post COVID-19 might never go back to “normal”.

As many businesses have simply been trying to survive over the last year, the agility required to do so may have changed the workplace forever. Many believe that the workplace will remain much more flexible, both in terms of location and working hours driven both by the efficiency it can bring to organisations and by employee needs and preferences. At the same time, employee mental health and wellness has never been greater, as has the employer’s duty of care.

The changes to the way we work in a post COVID world will inevitably present challenges for employers in Lancashire, but they could also present an opportunity. By offering flexible and remote working, it may be easier to attract and retain employees who would have previously opted to work in the larger cities outside of the county.

A well-structured employee benefits package can certainly help an employer manage these issues and really support employees; the challenge is how to deliver it effectively in the new workplace.

The challenge for organisations is how to ensure their people are engaged while their management team is likely to be more remote. There can be no doubt that an engaged workforce will be even more critical for success in the future, given the days of management by attendance have gone.

Over recent years we have found, when meeting and speaking with many employers of all sizes, that those employers that fall into the SME category believe that a fully integrated online wellness and benefits programme is beyond their reach and purely the realm of large employers with substantial HR Departments to handle the administrative burden.

By offering flexible and remote working, it may be easier to attract and retain employees

As this market has developed over the years, we have found that cost effective online solutions can be tailored to employers regardless of size or head count. Indeed, once the benefits package has been designed and the initial data uploaded the input required from the employer is minimal with the “online portal” doing most of the work.

Mattioli Woods, as employee benefit and employee engagement specialists, really understand how to make this work for you. With over 600 corporate clients and two Lancashire based teams of experts, we will understand your needs, cut through the myriad of options out there and pull together the right solution for you. Whether you want to understand what your employees want, build a robust wellness programme, control or reduce your costs, understand what your competition is offering or engage with your employees online Mattioli Woods has solutions which will fit your budget.

What responsibility do employers have for their workforce? Is there a minimum standard to be met, and is there a reason to go beyond this?

In 2017, the government commissioned an independent review into the role of employers in better supporting individuals with mental health conditions in the workplace.

The Stevenson-Farmer ‘Thriving at Work’ report sets out a framework of actions – referred to as ‘Core Standards’ – that the reviewers recommend employers should put in place irrespective of the number of employees they have.

In addition to these core standards, there is clear evidence that a robust wellness programme can increase productivity and reduce absenteeism, therefore providing a financial return for the employer as well as boosting employee retention.

Generally speaking, is there a difference in the way larger businesses care for their employees compared with smaller firms? If so, what may be the reasons for this and are these real barriers or just a lack of understanding?

Typically, we tend to see more awareness of employee wellbeing amongst larger employers. It is hard to provide one explanation for this, however these employers tend to have dedicated HR professionals who help implement a wellness programme for the workforce. That being said, there is just as much to be gained from a small employer as there is a large employer from improved employee wellbeing. Where employers feel they do not have time to commit to a wellbeing programme, Mattioli Woods can support them by tailoring a wellbeing communication programme for their employees or the implementation of an employee assistance programme for example.

Smaller companies might feel they do not have the budget or resources to go above and beyond for their employee wellbeing, what would be their incentive and what are the potential returns?

While it is understandable that employers may feel there is not sufficient budget at the moment for addressing employee wellbeing, this could be a false economy as failure to address the issue may end up costing far more.

The Stevenson-Farmer report suggested that the annual cost of poor mental health to employers in the UK is between £33bn and £42bn. About 50 per cent of this figure is related to presenteeism with the rest being the result of sickness absence and the costs associated with staff turnover.

Taking some simple steps to improve employee wellbeing can reduce absenteeism, increase productivity and also ensure good employees are retained therefore reducing the employer spend on managing absentees and also recruiting new employees.

For more information, contact Simon Taylor at simon.taylor@mattioliwoods.com and Nick Howarth at nick.howarth@mattioliwoods.com or visit www.mattioliwoods.com

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