Employee Wellness Post COVID-19; What do We do Next?
Updated: May 8, 2020
The overall summary of the current condition organisations face is spot on, the key question is what do we as individuals or corporations do next? In the business travel community, there is an even greater need for sound employee wellness programs. 1) We have to recognise workplace culture and the influence it has on what really gets implemented. There is often a living culture in an organisation that is not always expressed. It can be a function of many things within and without the organisation, having an awareness of these factors will be a determining factor on the success of an employee wellness program fit for purpose. We can talk a good game in COVID-19 but as the saying goes culture eats strategy for breakfast. 2) ROI on a sound employee wellness program will not be realised overnight. Research suggests the return on investment for well-implemented and executed programs is between 3 -5 years. In the meantime, organisations have to deal with the immediate fallout of COVID -19. For some, will that mean choosing between investing in a wellness program for the future or staying in business now? It shouldn’t be an either-or scenario if other factors are taken into consideration. How often do staff turnover in an organisation? Are you investing in the person or the culture of the organisation? Can you do one without the other? Rand Health research shows most implemented programs see a greater uptake in screening procedures double the uptake of lifestyle procedures and disease management. If motivated engagement from individuals can be achieved across an organisation a real partnership with realised benefits can be had on both employee and employer sides. In this climate tick box exercises in programs should be a thing of the past. If an organisation and its employees forge a true partnership the culture in enriched alongside the employees quality of life irrespective of how long they stay with the organisation. 3) Weakened immunity in working populations matter. We are less robust than our ancestors were and it shows. The quality of our food, living, and the nature of our consumption are all implicated in the health of our immunity. I see this first hand having worked in the aviation industry which is fast-paced and particularly disruptive to health in a fundamental way. Airlines are reliant on a stream of youth to fuel the requirements of a physically demanding travel lifestyle, and sickness rates amongst aviation workers are not enviable. By extension frequent fliers, road warriors all played a role in spreading COVID-19 unwittingly. Unless there is a realisation that each person, group, and organisation operating across boarders has responsibility it will be harder to prevent more pandemics from having a similar effect. The travel community in particular needs to be aware of the responsibility of having global citizenship. Employee wellness programs in the business travel space need to be fast-tracked. Till now the focus has mainly been on the “business” done while away and not on the person doing the business. We can’t sustainably have one without the other. Come and join the discussion at the virtual Global Business Travel Wellbeing Webinar Day on 05/05/2020 here.