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  • Nick Stolerman

Which companies are – MID COVID – taking staff wellbeing seriously?

Updated: Nov 9, 2021

Looking after staff wellbeing is nothing new. But Covid IS new and everything has changed. Here are a few recent comments I’ve heard that probably resonate with what you have also been hearing:

“Being on furlough has mostly been great but now I’m really worried because I haven’t been told what’s happening next.”

“Working from home was good at the start but has become a nightmare because of home schooling, lack of space and privacy. We’ve been told to stay working from home until November – at least.”

“From next week I’ve been told to come in full time and I’m really anxious about the daily commute – I’m not sure I can do it.”

“We’ve started hot desking, coming in on a rota and it’s been chaotic and stressful, I’ve become so unproductive.”

These are just a handful of work-related examples of stress. Outside of work, none of us have escaped difficult, sometimes traumatic experiences such as postponed wedding and holiday plans, illness, death and bereavement, financial and health fears. It certainly hasn’t helped being surrounded by 24/7 bad news, feeling trapped and unable to pursue activities that used to help maintain our morale and mental health – things like going swimming, to yoga, fitness and sports centres, pubs, restaurants, clubs, live entertainment, holidays.

Whether work related or otherwise, these circumstances have a direct impact on an employer’s bottom line: see below for just a few highlights from recently published research.

  • From March 2019 to March 2021, stress related sickness days increased in general by 113%. In the healthcare sector the figure is 145%

  • During the pandemic, levels of presenteeism (working while ill) reached almost two thirds. Presenteeism is seen as more costly to business as productivity loss is about three time more than absenteeism. Put simply, you are less efficient trying to work through illness rather than taking time off to recover

  • The number of employers struggling to fill skilled roles has more than doubled in the past two years; it has increased from 35% in 2019 to 77% in 2021.

This is why more and more organisations – MID COVID – are now taking staff wellbeing seriously. It is the companies that want to attract and retain the best calibre staff and to keep them healthy and productive, that are now taking employee wellbeing seriously. Company size, sector and location are irrelevant, what unites them is that they treat employees as humans rather than resources so are implementing wellbeing activities for the workplace that engage all employees rather than simply wanting to be seen to do the right thing.

Here are three examples that I have been involved with in the last three months:

A PR agency with staff suffering from burn out, struggling to collaborate well when working remotely and with some staff now returning to different office locations. A series of online activities such as cooking, wine tasting and employee yoga went well initially, but the lack of diverse participation (seniority and gender) needed to be addressed. We introduced breathing and visualisation sessions together with the meditative sound of the gong. Offering a variety of initiatives is key to achieving company wide engagement. As is using activities scientifically proven to reduce stress and increase resilience.

A research firm with offices in Asia and Europe didn’t struggle with collaboration but wanted to do more to support its staff and to evolve its culture with wellbeing at its core. To accommodate different time zones and shift patterns, accessibility was an essential ingredient to the plan. A calendar of staff wellbeing activities was compiled (including meditation, massage, nutrition and exercise) and made available live at different times as well as recorded, with sessions of varying length.

A marketing based organisation had successfully considered the physical wellbeing of its staff but it became clear that less physically active people had been experiencing particularly high levels of stress since Covid turned our lives upside down. This contributed to increased staff churn and needed to be addressed. With mental strength and clarity at the heart, a programme of activities suitable for everyone was created, including chair based yoga exercise for employees, meditation and seminars on subjects such as stress, sleep, altruism, gratitude. Key to success was senior level involvement in achieving a shift in emphasis from physical to mental wellbeing.

If you are interested in exploring how workplace wellbeing activities can support your staff and your business, please contact us on +44 (0) 787 966 6921 or at

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