Most employees are happy working from home, but what about the rest?

A full third of employees report being more stressed and exhausted working remotely, and employee wellness needs to account for them and more, says report author Kaspersky.

A study of global IT workers by Kaspersky finds that increased workloads haven’t prevented more than two-thirds of employees from feeling more comfortable working from home. Unfortunately, that means a full third are uncomfortable, which Kaspersky says points to the need for a continued overhaul of corporate wellbeing practices.

Workloads reportedly increased for 54% of employees when they shifted to remote work due to the pandemic, but despite that 64% said they don’t feel any more exhausted at the end of a remote day than they would in the office; 36% even reported having more energy.

SEE: Wellness at work: How to support your team’s mental health (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

As mentioned above, more than two-thirds (67%) of workers report feeling more comfortable at home, but that leaves 36% that said they felt more tired at the end of a remote day, and 33% that said being away from the office increased their anxiety levels. 

One solution to the split in employee preference, which Kaspersky said 45% of organizations planned to do in 2021, is to switch to a hybrid work schedule that gives employees the freedom to choose their own work situation. However, Kaspersky chief HR officer Marina Alekseeva notes, that’s not enough to keep up with increased employee wellbeing demands and other changes in the workplace brought on by COVID-19.

“Today, the wellbeing of employees is the focus of many organizations. Unfortunately, there is no ‘one size fits all solution’ when it comes to developing a wellbeing program …  It is, however, crucial to create a culture that makes it comfortable for employees to talk about their emotional state or problems with their managers or HR business partners,” Alekseeva said. 

Many, if not most, companies appear to be taking some sort of step toward that end, with the study reporting that 80% of companies have invested in training courses for employees, and many are also changing perks to include additional PTO, as well as wellbeing courses and consulting. Unfortunately, only 45% have taken steps to implement practical solutions to employee burnout and stress, such as hiring additional people or automating some basic tasks.

How to approach employee wellbeing

Wellness and wellbeing are two different things, says Forrester future-of-work analyst Jonathan Roberts, and organizations should be focusing on wellbeing, which Roberts sees as a three-dimensional concept that defines “the essence of an employee.” 

Wellbeing includes elements particular to the individual, like physical, emotional and psychological wellness; environmental factors like social, occupational and spatial wellness; and contextual elements like financial and spiritual wellness. 

SEE: COVID vaccination policy (TechRepublic Premium)

Creating a program that truly works toward employee wellness means including all elements of total wellbeing, Roberts said. Kaspersky and the Global Centre for Healthy Workplaces offer several strategies for how to do just that:

  • Tackle underlying issues of burnout: Control/demand, management practices, predictability, social support, redistribution of work and other factors can all be at the bottom of a burned out employee and should be “assessed and managed throughout,” Kaspersky said.
  • Survey employees to learn the overall wellbeing of a workplace, but don’t ignore other indicators, like employee assistance program utilization, sick leave, burnout inventories and other signs. 
  • Be flexible and open to alternative work practices if it fits your business model.
  • Help employees manage their wellbeing with courses and programs designed to teach relevant skills — but don’t make them mandatory. 

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