As a business owner, you’ll understand the difficulties many companies have faced over the last two years. From furloughing workers to keeping on top of government grants and adjusting to lockdowns, you’ll have navigated multiple challenges.

It’s been a tough time for employees too. As your business adapts to a post-pandemic normal, you might be offering flexible working, balancing the need to manage remote productivity and staff wellbeing with the ever-changing needs of your business.

A recent Vitality report suggests that business owners should be placing wellbeing centre stage in 2022. Here’s how to do just that, plus the benefits of doing so. But first, what does the employment market look like as we head into 2022?

The pandemic has forced workers to re-evaluate their priorities

A recent survey by Canada Life found that 27% of small and medium-sized business (SME) leaders worried that employee productivity would drop during coronavirus lockdowns.

Concerns included:

  • Distractions at home
  • Poor internet connectivity and other IT issues
  • Potential falls in motivation.

And yet, 18 months on, only 17% of SME leaders felt that they had seen this predicted drop in output.

The same survey found that while 17% of business leaders worried about their employees’ mental health at the start of the lockdowns, many business owners (a worryingly high 14%) confirmed that these concerns had materialised.

While the report shows that the mental health of employees is a concern for business owners, just over a quarter (27%) of UK employees felt that their employer cared about their overall wellbeing.

With employers and employees alike under strain, movements in the job market are likely to be high in 2022.

According to figures published in the Independent, more than a quarter of all employees worldwide are showing signs of unhappiness normally associated with people who have already quit their jobs. The Independent goes on to suggest that a “Great Resignation” could be on the way.

Meanwhile, one in three UK small firms are planning major staff cuts, according to the Guardian, with pandemic debt blamed for a potential 45% cut in employees among small businesses.

As your business learns to adapt to a post-pandemic normal, you’ll need to balance flexible working with the need to maintain or even improve productivity. Concentrating on employee wellbeing could be one way to improve productivity while increasing staff retention too.

5 key points to consider

1. Leading from the front

Demonstrate your company’s commitment to staff wellbeing. This means setting an example at the top, from the CEO to team leaders, which can then be replicated across the business.

Talk about wellbeing often, through meetings and business communications, and be sure to reinforce these messages regularly.

Research suggests that 70% of employee engagement is done through a line manager, so wellbeing training at this level is a must.

2. Turning communication into a conversation

While spreading the wellbeing message is important, communication can’t be one-way.

Take the time to understand your employees. This will help ensure the messages you send out are in the right format and delivered through the right channels.

When you receive a response, remember that listening is only half of what’s required.

Acting upon the suggestions and concerns of your employees can demonstrate the influence they have, empowering them, and ensuring they understand that they are a valued part of the business.

3. Understand your employees’ wellbeing needs

Investing in the wellbeing of your employees won’t necessarily come cheap. But understanding your staffs’ needs will allow you to make the right decisions for your business, based on up-to-date management information.

Once you gain these insights, you’ll be in a good position to build a targeted strategy.

4. Build a strategy with clear objectives and measurable outcomes

High-priority areas in the current climate might be productivity and staff retention.

Be sure that the strategy you put in place sets out clear, measurable, attainable objectives aligned to areas that you’ve identified as risks.

The process by which you gained insights at point three should also have helped you be clear about the culture and demographics of your workforce. Tailor your strategy accordingly.

Setting measurable and attainable objectives means that you can also measure the success of these initiatives, either building on or refining these as the year progresses.

5. Keep on top of engagement and encourage success through rewards

Communicating the successes of your staff wellbeing strategy will reinforce the message and help to drive future engagement.

Remember to emphasise the importance of individual wellbeing within the context of each staff member’s crucial role within the wider business. And offer incentives, either through reward or recognition.

Get in touch

Motivated staff with high levels of emotional wellbeing are likely to be productive staff too. Putting your and your staffs’ wellbeing at the centre of your business strategy this year could be key to a successful 2022.

And whether your business is thriving or in need of support, remember that we are here for you, helping you to run your business in the most profitable and tax-efficient way possible.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of your business or personal financial plans for the year ahead, please contact us today.