Varying working arrangements will rely on open communication and monitoring when they come into practice as the world reopens. Continuing to be available 24/7 with the merging of office and home spaces may risk burnout over a longer period of time for some, whilst for others it may be an opportunity to balance careers and childcare. The flip side of this is the wider talent pools that flexible working opens up for organisations willing to embrace an almost digital workforce. The impact on mental health will undoubtedly vary even within organisations, meaning employee feedback on how they are finding their working arrangements needs to be continually factored in.
The long-term impact in certain sectors, particularly those on the frontline of the pandemic, may be seen further down the line. With incremental pay rises despite national recognition and appreciation of the NHS’ role in the pandemic, employers fear that the impact on employee turnover is still to be felt in this sector. Combined with the skills shortages operating across the country, organisations are having to look beyond competitive pay and tackle the wellbeing support they offer for each individual when it comes to retaining top talent.
As the UK emerges from restrictions, it is clear that a holistic review of employee wellbeing is required. With one in three organisations accelerating their financial wellbeing plans, this is crucial for certain sectors where the long-term impact and stress of particular roles are driving people out of certain professions. The Royal College of Nursing forecasts that one third of nurses are considering leaving the profession. Healthcare companies are also reporting that they are struggling to compete with NHS pay levels, particularly in relation to the pension levels on offer. Private healthcare companies report that they are focusing on benefits and holiday allowances to compete.
Pay levels also look constrained in the private sector. Whilst public sector pay rises continued during 2020 in the private sector, the immediate uncertainty caused many to lose their jobs or have their pay frozen. Supporting employees’ financial wellbeing is a priority for many who have either been furloughed or actually experienced a pay cut given that the Retail Price Index inflation is 2.5 per cent – above the average 2 per cent pay rise projected in 2021 by respondent employers to our UK Reward Management Survey autumn 2020. We also captured the highest levels of pay freezes since the 2008 recession, with 24 per cent of respondents reporting that these were in operation before the third national lockdown across the UK.
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When it comes to setting the right level of benefits and access to wellbeing support across your organisation, how are you balancing the packages available for those working from home and those who plan to return to the office? Call us to talk through how you’re approaching the easing of lockdown and your proposed plans for returning to the office.