Covid-19, lockdown and working from home created a workforce crisis point which organisations and employees have been working through for the last 12 months.
UK government data from June 2020 shows that 69% of adults were very or somewhat worried about the effect that the coronavirus pandemic was having on their life. The most common issue affecting wellbeing were feeling worried about the future (63%), feeling stressed or anxious (56%) and feeling bored (49%).
Organisations have responded well, providing health and wellbeing resources to support the needs of their employees. This was driven from the bottom up as employees sought out resources to manage the stress of lockdown.
Research from Business in the Community shows 76% of workers say colleagues are considerate of their mental wellbeing and 69% believe the same of their managers.
The number of employees who feel their organisation supports their mental health is also rising, up from 55% in 2019 to 63% in 2020. The signs are positive but organisations will need to continue to proactively support healthy workplaces as the shadow of Covid-19 is likely to be felt for some time to come.
A report from the British Academy marking the anniversary of the first Covid-19 lockdown in the UK suggests that the ill effects on society of the pandemic could be felt for the next decade.
Learning content to support employee mental health
The pandemic showed how quickly organisations were able to respond to the needs of the workforce. For learning teams, curating resources to support employee mental health and wellbeing of colleagues was key. Fosway research shows that during the first lockdown curated content was the second most popular form of learning content behind video.
In order to deliver content on-demand, organisations need to consider the following steps.
Step 1: Ensure you have the right infrastructure to reach your audience
Your learning technology needs to enable the learning team to easily and quickly gather resources based on employee need. A flexible digital learning platform will enable you to package resources in a useful and relevant way, to be able to monitor user activity, provide insights on topics that are in demand and ways to market those resources effectively.
Step: 2 Ensure you use data to listen to employee needs
Data is not only a tool to drive performance it provides you with insights on what resources are in demand. When the pandemic hit, 5app customers noticed a huge spike in demand for resources on supporting mental health and wellbeing. By using this data to ‘listen’ to and identify areas of employee demand, our clients were able to keep resources fresh and relevant. By monitoring these insights you can focus on content that works and is in demand.
Step 3: Make content accessible
The pandemic has shown us that learning has changed. It is no longer face to face and wrapped up in a course. It has changed to point of need resources that are easy to access in the flow of work. Learning is now digital first.
In the digital environment, accessibility matters. So, use formats that are easy to engage with such as videos, audio, infographics and relatable stories. Playlists are a great way to package up essential information, pulling together the most timely, relevant and useful resources on any given topic.
Playlists enable you provide different resources around mental health and wellbeing. For example, a news related playlist can keep employees up to date on wellbeing initiatives in the organisation. This can be updated on a regular basis.
Step 4: Target users and communicate regularly
The 5app approach to building responsive and agile learning is built on three pillars: Development, Knowledge and Communication.
Communication is key because it connects people with what is going on in the organisation by curating the news and information people need. It is also key to supporting employees around mental health and wellbeing. This is about telling people there are resources to help and support them and to remind them over time that they are there and are regularly updated. By doing this, you are raising the profile of health and wellbeing and telling colleagues that it matters and that as an organisation you are working to provide relevant support and resources.
This emphasis on communication has had positive effects for our client Greystar. The company’s focus on communicating learning helped it achieve a 24% improvement in performance and productivity.
Building a supportive culture around employee mental health and wellbeing
Creating relevant mental health and wellbeing resources and sharing them effectively are building blocks to helping build a healthy workplace.
In its 2020 Health and Well-being at Work survey report, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development recommends that building healthy workplaces has to come from the leadership team first. It has to be supported by managers and with clear support for employees who need help with poor mental health and wellbeing.
The report says: "To create healthy workplaces, senior leaders need to lead by example and ensure line managers have the skills and confidence to implement the right policies and signpost employees to support pathways when necessary. The organisation’s well-being framework needs to assess the main risks to people’s health and focus on prevention."
So what is L&D’s role in supporting the wellbeing agenda? This is something we explored in a previous article, How L&D can drive the wellbeing agenda. There are four elements that need to be considered.
1. Lead with data and insight
2. Respond at pace
3. Communicate effectively
4. Educate the organisation
Clearly, there will be work to support the senior leadership team, managers and the rest of the workforce. Your priority will be to support the leadership team and build a strategy for developing a healthy working culture. You will then work with the organisation to help make this a reality for all employees.
Your main consideration is to put communication at the heart of all you do. Content curation can really help here by enabling you to package up insights and resources and target particular audiences. For example, if your leadership team needs insights and examples of how a healthy workplace strategy works in other organisations, then curate some examples into a playlist and send it to them. Use that playlist to facilitate a discussion around developing your own wellbeing strategy.
Regular, useful and relevant communications will, over time, build engagement around mental health and wellbeing.
Uncertainty is something all organisations will have to get comfortable with over the coming months and years. To thrive, organisations will need to build healthy workplaces, ones in which good employee mental health and wellbeing are supported. HR and learning teams have a critical role to play in educating the business on these topics and supporting strategies to make them a reality. Having the right learning technology is key to supporting this agenda and building engagement around it, helping employees thrive in healthy workplaces.
Use a platform that supports your new ways of working and learning. 5app can help in supporting your employees' mental health and wellbeing agenda, and in aligning learning with business needs and objectives.
Get in touch to find out more.