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What are the key HR challenges you’re facing at the moment? Is it the ever changing workplace dynamic? Or is it the need to create flexible and hybrid working models? Perhaps its workplace stress and employee well-being – or maybe it’s all of the above? And chances are, these challenges are keeping you awake at night. Which is hardly surprising given we have been co-existing with COVID-19 for longer than anyone could have predicted.

If you’re asking yourself how best to manage all of the above, then you might be interested to learn that the solution lies nearer to home than you think. Let’s take a closer look.

Consider the support you’re offering your employees
It’s important to remember that COVID-19 has impacted everything around us – our physical and mental health, our family, our friends, our finances and our home environment. They are all closely connected. If an employee is encountering a difficulty in any one of these areas, this has an immediate knock-on effect on their whole health.  Employees are therefore looking for more support from their employers in every area of their Whole Health –  and employers have a duty of care to provide that. However Cigna’s 360 Well-being Survey highlights the gap between what employees want and what their employer is actually providing.

More awareness about mental health is urgently needed. Employers have an important role to play in preventing mental health issues together with building and sustaining employee resilience. Cigna’s research highlights that 72% of people rank their mental health as the most important aspect of their Whole Health. So, it’s alarming to learn that 61% of people are stressed, with work related stress, financial worries and uncertainty for the future the leading causes. Employers need to acknowledge employees’ lives are complicated, busy and ever changing, and their overall health and well-being is complex too.  Addressing the mental health needs of employees now and in the future is essential. 40% of employees are looking for mental health support from their employer, yet only 24% of employers provide it.

There’s also a significant gap when it comes to flexibility in the workplace. Only 20% of people are keen to return to the office full-time, and the majority are happy to continue to work from home for at least part of the working week. Two thirds of Europeans would prefer some flexibility with their working arrangements yet only 37% of employers are actually offering it. Expectations have significantly changed and for employers looking to attract and retain top talent, allowing hybrid working is essential.

Taking all of this into account – are you currently providing the right support for your employees with an all-encompassing Whole Health offering? Are managers checking in regularly with their team on a personal level? Are resources stretched too thinly across the team? Is the workload unrealistic? Are managers offering enough support, guidance or clarity? 

Move towards a more strategic approach to employee Whole Health
Employee well-being offerings need to be more than just a tick box exercise. They shouldn’t be geared towards getting unwell employees back to the workplace as soon as possible. Instead, they should be focused on empowering employees to take a holistic and preventative approach, and a proactive mindset when it comes to looking after their Whole Health. It’s not about getting employees back to physical wellness as soon as possible, it’s about creating healthy behaviours that can minimise the chance of physical or mental illnesses from occurring at all.

To roll this out effectively in the workplace, it’s fundamental that there’s a fully connected approach to Whole Health that involves everyone, rallies all teams and involves all leaders and managers.  In other words, the workplace may need an internal culture transformation to truly be thriving, vibrant and healthy.

A culture transformation begins by taking a four-phased approach:

  • Listen to your organisation – It’s important to listen to your employees and understand how they are feeling. Are they happy and productive? If not, why not? By gaining insight into your organisation will help you identify key areas for action that will make a real difference to your people,
  • Identify what needs to change – Once you know what the key issues are, you can plan how you’re going to address them. You might identify some quick wins while others will take time – and that’s ok!
  • Communicate and commit – Share your internal transformation roadmap with all employees and commit to your objectives and wellness promises, updating them regularly on the progress.
  • Measure the outcomes – Take time to pause and reflect on the transformation journey so far. Invest time in evaluating the success to date – have the objectives been met, or is further work needed?

Look forward to improved employee Whole Health in the long-term
The end goal of your culture transformation is to adopt a strategic Whole Health approach in the workplace – one that will become the backbone of the organisation and allow you to tackle the burning HR issues and challenges that you’re losing sleep over.

The workplace transformation will address the gaps between employee needs and employer support by providing them with access to quality tools that focus on looking after the body and mind as well as support for all areas of life – from the home environment to personal finances and everything in between. This includes, but isn’t limited to, offering a robust health plan, access to virtual health solutions, mental health support, chronic condition management programmes and physiotherapy services.

In addition, you’ll have created a workplace culture that is safe, supportive and caring and one that builds a strong support network within the company which forms the foundation for building a positive workplace where people are engaged, thriving and productive.

Undertaking an internal culture transformation isn’t for the faint hearted – it is exciting and it is ambitious. It’ll take time and dedication but the outcome for the workplace and for the employees will be worth the effort. Get ready to turn the Whole Health concept into a reality.

    Robin Lewis leads the HR teams for health service company Cigna Europe’s business and the Middle East and Africa region as well as the Global Service Operations and Total Health and Network teams. Robin is a qualified coach (Tavistock Institute) and his career before joining Cigna includes PA Consulting and HR Director roles at New Look Retailers and CMC Markets. He has an MA in Strategic HRM and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) as well as being Fellow of the Institute of Directors.

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