WBN WELLBEING 2021: GLOBAL MOBILITY AND BEYOND
For many companies, wellbeing used to be just a tick box exercise. Now the status of wellbeing in the workplace has taken on a whole new meaning and significance.
It is now something employees and organizations are fully engaging in, and is no longer the exception. The pandemic has expanded the wellbeing narrative into places we’ve never even had to consider previously.
Throughout 2020, we collaborated on two research papers with our partners RES Forum – ‘Duty of Care and Global Mobility: The Role of the Employer’ back in March 2020, and ‘Wellbeing in 2021: Global Mobility’s Next Big Challenge’ in December.
GLOBAL MOBILITY: THE CHANGING WELLBEING LANDSCAPE
David Enser, Founding Partner at the RES Forum and Mark Sallis, Senior Global Mobility expert from Cognizant, talked through why wellbeing is now even more important in the context of Global Mobility with some of our Members and partners in a webinar earlier this year.
In our latest Insights, we explore some of these new and existing challenges organizations are now facing coming out of the pandemic.
More people working remotely could cause an insurance headache
The rise of the digital nomad had been constant for many years before covid – for expats remote working was pretty much normalized. But almost overnight, the pandemic brought the practice into the mainstream.
Although the ‘work from anywhere’ concept is great for giving employees that added flexibility in their role, HR teams are left wondering whether their existing insurance policies are suitable for the protection of employees working across borders or in different areas of the same country.
Even if there is a policy that allows employees to travel where they like, which trips are considered official or unofficial? And how will insurers view cross border working where it is not an official work trip?
Clarifying these points is where an expert EB benefits broker can help, by working with benefits teams to ensure they understand how their cover works and how employees working overseas are covered. Both the organization and individual need to be clear on the risks and issues they’re responsible for.
GM teams need to support the family, as well as the individual
An employee’s wellbeing needs can differ depending on the type of assignment they’re sent on, and Global Mobility teams need to tailor their support program to each individual.
For example, a person on a short-term assignment might be missing family and would benefit from that initial support helping them to settle into a new environment, such as finding them a suitable apartment. Whereas someone on a more longer-term placement might have a family with them, and while they might need help dealing with some of the stress of adapting to a new working environment, they have the added pressure of making sure their family’s wellbeing is catered for.
Wellbeing programs should offer destination support to help employees and their families feel as comfortable as possible integrating into a new culture and community. Not only does it help the employee adjust emotionally, but it helps with productivity. Once they know their family is happy in a new environment, the job they’ve been sent to do becomes all the more enjoyable.
It’s also vitally important employers make sure employees know how to access any benefit schemes available to them while they’re in their host country. And distinguish between local and ex pat covers if that’s applicable.
Wellbeing for GM has come a long way, but there’s still work to do
The research published in December 2020 revealed that 36% of organizations said wellbeing is central to their global mobility program and GM teams are making it much more of a priority. But there is still room for improvement.
Wordings in some employers mobility policies are still not as inclusive as they should be. Rather clumsily, they can be quite sexist and often assume the assignee is male. And there can also be an assumption that the assignee is the only member of the family working once they reach their new destination, an increasingly unlikely situation for today’s mobile workforce.
And programs need to cater to and be mindful of a diverse workforce. Nowadays, people identify themselves in a myriad of different ways and GM teams need to make sure programs are inclusive to all.
But outside of Global Mobility, organizations need to seriously consider weaving wellbeing right across their entire employer value proposition. The conditions of the pandemic mean more and more people will be moving in and out of organizations for some time. Brand-centric companies that take a healthy stance on wellbeing stand a much stronger chance of keeping and attracting the best people.
If you want to find out more about RES Forum and its growing community of HR and Global Mobility professionals, visit the website here.
MENTAL HEALTH IN 2020: THE STATS AND THE PROGRESS
Kennette Thigpen of Workplace Options took us through the key statistics on mental health to come out of 2020. The pandemic is first and foremost a people crisis, and the numbers are a stark reminder of the impact Covid has had on mental wellbeing.
However, the decline in global mental health has given people and organizations more reason than ever to take action. Workplace Options has had to answer a lot more calls concerning mental health, an 18% increase, and had 308 new companies sign up to its wellbeing initiatives since the beginning of the pandemic.
The full story isn’t all doom and gloom, however, as the crisis has accelerated change, speeding up the adoption of new ways to address the challenge of mental health.
Virtual therapy is here to stay
Before the pandemic, people would almost always choose to have therapy in person. Virtual support sessions were hardly ever considered. But out of necessity, the choice of format has swung the other way.
And it looks like things might stay that way, or at least be a lot more balanced. People have realized virtual therapy can be just as effective as a face-to-face session and considerably more convenient to attend.
Wellbeing providers are getting more creative
Providers are updating their services in response to what the pandemic has taught them. Workplace Options, for example, sent out a questionnaire to employers to find out how they coped during the crisis, and what they’re doing to adapt now employees are starting to go back into the office.
From that data, they’ve been able to build relevant solutions that help to solve the challenges employers are most concerned with. That includes a wellbeing course for managers and guidance on Covid-related safety measures.
If you want to learn more about Workplace Options and the wellbeing services it can offer your workforce, visit its website.
DUTY OF CARE: HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR WELLBEING STRATEGIES
Tanja Lumpp and Maddison Bezdicek, wellbeing professionals from Hylant Insurance, WBN Member based in Ohio, walked through some tips employers can use across the business to support their workforce through this current crisis and beyond.
Use a holistic approach
Medical professor Sir Michael Marmot of UCL once said: “It is unreasonable to expect people to change their behavior when the social, cultural and physical environments around them fully conspire against them.”
The impact of the pandemic has come in many different forms, which is why the wellbeing strategies our employers use to manage mental health need to look beyond just the physical. Employers need to adopt a holistic approach that gives time and focus to the emotional, social and financial needs of their people.
Crush the mental health stigma
Even though the mental health conversation is a lot more open than it once was, we’ve still got a long way to go before the stigma fully disappears in society. On an organizational level, however, business leaders can do much more to normalize mental health in the workplace by sharing their own struggles.
Employees immediately feel less judged and more empowered to come forward when they’re not feeling themselves.
Train managers to have caring conversations
Managers are given the responsibility to take care of a team’s productivity, but hardly ever given the right tools to properly support them emotionally. With the right training, managers can feel comfortable having meaningful conversations with employees. They can get to know them on a personal level and make sure they have everything they need to thrive, whether working from home or in the office.
For expats, it’s even more critical for their managers to have the right wellbeing training, as they’re very often their first line of communication back into the home organization as the employee may only have little support in their work location.
Put aside time for social connection
With less in-person contact, companies can very easily forget how beneficial it is for employees to stay connected with each other. Making time for social activity that’s inclusive of a global and local workforce is a vital component of a strong company culture.
Technology continues to surprise us with the number of creative solutions out there for employees to come together and enjoy across virtual platforms. It’s time employers make the most of what technology has to offer.
Make small changes to see a big difference
There are some quick wins employers can implement that can make a world of difference to employee wellbeing. Introducing a “no email” policy between certain hours can reduce stress and help employees properly switch off from the working day – many companies in Europe are already seeing significant success with this idea.
Changing meetings to 25 and 55 minutes instead of 30 and 60 makes sure employees aren’t suffering back-to-back meetings all day and get time to take a breath after one ends and another begins.
And giving employees permission to focus on wellbeing during the day is a great standard to stick to. It could be taking a walk, doing some exercise, chatting virtually over a coffee with colleagues – just any self-care exercise that’s going to break up the day and keep stress levels under control.
To learn more about Hylant’s Employee Benefit’s expertise and range of insurance and wellbeing solutions, visit the website.
A BIG THANK YOU TO OUR PARTICIPANTS
WBN is committed to supporting our Members in the provision of forums to discuss the key issues that their clients face. For our HR community clients, the pandemic has moved employee wellbeing from a subject that they may have thought about to one that now sits at the heart of business conversations, culture and executive decision making.
We will continue to host events over the coming months that address this issue and the vital work that the HR community is doing to creatively manage it and look after employees wellbeing across the globe.
For more information on WBN and the work of our Member employee benefits brokers please get in touch. [email protected]