- Global learnings and insights from Michiel Bakker, Google
- A safe environment with Sarah Morris, Compass Group PLC
- Wellbeing is a priority, Dimple Agarwal, Deloitte
Over the last few months we have seen the way we work change dramatically, and as employers look to adapt their businesses to the ‘new normal’, work will not look like it did at the start of 2020. Many employers invested in Health & Wellbeing programmes pre-COVID, and in these unprecedented times senior leaders give us their insights into what they see as the role of the employer in wellness in the home office.
Wellbeing is a priority
Dimple Agarwal – Deputy CEO UK and Managing Partner for People, Deloitte says: “From the get-go we were clear that the health, safety and wellbeing of our people was the priority. This has been nuanced and has meant different things to different people. We needed to ensure all aspects of wellbeing: physical, mental, financial. We needed to enable people with increased caring responsibilities to be able to adjust and work effectively. Equally, 70 percent of our workforce are millennials and a lot of them live in flat shares or live alone, which meant different challenges. What has really emerged through the last three to four months, is that the extent of loneliness is something we did not anticipate so much at the beginning of lockdown. Since then it has been a key focus area. We have been consistently and continuously measuring and asking our people how they’re feeling and then subsequently responding accordingly to ensure we are providing the support that is needed.
It is clear that mental health is a priority in employees wellbeing, Agarwal continues: “We put in place a Wellbeing Movement, an employee-led platform of useful resources, support and a daily calendar of wellbeing activities, from yoga to nutritional webinars, for our people. It is built around the ‘Mind’ charity’s five pillars – which are: Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Learn and Give. Every week we refresh what we do, and it has worked really well for our people.
Investing in wellbeing builds a higher performing culture
“80% of respondents to this year’s Global Human Capital Trends survey identified well-being as an important or very important priority for their organisation’s success, making it the year’s top-ranked trend for importance and one that is a particular priority for Millennials and Gen Z.
“HR and leaders need to be more cautious to provide a full human experience to the worker through the work design. They need to understand what matters to the workforce. This will help people feel more engaged in the work, which will make them feel comfortable and confident that they can perform their best and improve productivity. When they can relate to each other in this way it builds a higher performing culture.
“Organisations are making a lot of investments in well-being. But for most, it’s not doing anything other than impacting the workforce experience. It’s not actually impacting the bottom line or things that impact your customers or your financial performance and that is where wellbeing can be optimised.”
A safe environment
Sarah Morris – Group Chief People Officer, Compass Group, says: “One of the most important wellbeing points for us is mental wellbeing. Having enough space and resources to work and enjoy working from home doesn’t apply to everybody, and the most common reason for people wanting to return to the office is because they think their mental wellbeing is compromised. I think a really important question is how do we take steps to enable people to make a safe return, at the same time as recognising that the alternative of staying at home indefinitely is not the answer.”
An online future
Michiel Bakker – Director, Global Workplace Services Programs, Google adds: I think one to consider is the Millennial and Gen Z generations. They’ve lived this intersectional life, between a physical life and an online life and I think that generation is probably the most anxious and mentally challenged. You wonder is that the future for all of us, when we’re going to be online all of the time. I fear for that, and we are going to be very thoughtful and careful not to assume that just because we have been able to do it for a number of months that it’s our future.
Service provision in all environments
The environment in which support is provided also has to be considered, Bakker continues: “We’re in 55 countries and you’re dealing with people in very different phases of their family cycles. Something might happen and your situation changes over night, so how can you become a support platform where you provide a wide variety of services that people get to choose and interact with as they see fit. I think we may have thought of ourselves as an organisation that would provide amazing support services in our physical working environment, but what we are seeing now is that we’re basically becoming a space agnostic support organisation.
“I think one of the other consequences today is you should no longer assume that people are going to be just working from home, they might go to an undisclosed location and work out of an Air B & B or a vacation location. As a service provider you have to think through what services you will provide in a physical environment and what you will provide as an optional service for your workforce wherever they’re working on your behalf.”
Food is important when it comes to wellbeing and clearly has a central role to play, Morris says: “The idea of food being a part of wellbeing is a long-established part of all of our businesses. When you talk to anybody who has gone into work on some basis, they’re all talking about the reduced choice right now and they don’t feel they are healthy choices. In most cases they don’t think they are as fresh, fortunately not referring to any of the Compass services, but they are frustrated and lost for options. One of our jobs in our business is to innovate with new ways of being able to provide that fresh, healthy experience for people who are returning to the office.
The role of technology
“We’re looking at how you create food in a box to the same high level of quality that you would be used to eating in a canteen, and technology plays an important part as well. How do we help those people working from home to use technology more effectively to pre-order, arrange collection slots and to access healthy choices. Otherwise I fear that in a couple of years there will be a new challenge on our hands around health.
Home delivery services
“I have experienced some of the food at home trials such as ‘breakfast in a hamper’, which was an incredibly high-quality product and I think there will be a market for that. My US colleagues are also working on some ideas around delivery at home. There are also some conversations we had about enabling people to take food home for the next day – where do you draw the line between food provision in the office and food at home, and they’re interesting conversations to be having.”
Food as an extension of wellbeing programmes
Deloitte is also looking at ways to integrate food into people’s wellbeing, Argwaal adds: “We already have a wellbeing learning programme – Thrive – where we give our people advice on how to look after their physical and mental health to deliver peak performance, which does feature food. We are looking how we can extend and amplify this.”