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Employees Becoming ‘Emotionally Remote’ During Coronavirus

More than half (52%) of UK employees have said that the boundaries between their work and home life are becoming increasingly blurred due to working from home during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to insurance provider Aviva’s new Embracing the Age of Ambiguity report, employees said they are becoming emotionally remote whilst working from home. 

Just 15% agreed that their employer is trying hard to understand what motivates them, and a quarter (26%) said their employer is genuinely concerned about their wellbeing. 

Speaking to HR magazine, Paul Wilson, chief marketing officer at Aviva UK Life, Savings and Retirement said that employees’ needs and expectations have evolved while remote working. 

He said: “Our evidence suggests that employees are increasingly ‘plodding’ through work. 

“They seek work-life balance, control over career progression and help with wellbeing and retirement planning. Understanding employee motivations is a key opportunity for HR teams to strengthen engagement and combat the sense of ‘employee drift’ in the workplace.” 

The majority (73%) of employees surveyed said where they work hasn’t changed since the start of the March lockdown. This has reportedly had an impact on employee mental health. 

Two in five (43%) employees described their wellbeing as being less than good, and more than a third (34%) said they did carry on working even when they felt unwell. 

Heightened anxiety has also led to employees working longer hours and taking fewer sick days over a three-month period (67% in February vs. 84% in August). 

While the report suggested responsibility is on employers to ensure they provide the right environment for employee work-life balance and wellbeing to thrive, it stated it is “a two-way street” and employees need to play their part too. 

Fifty-four per cent of UK employees said that their employer has worked hard to create a sense of ‘company togetherness’. They are predominantly doing this by embracing an open dialogue and communicating future working arrangements, according to 60% of employees. 

In the report, Laura Stewart Smith, workplace savings manager at Aviva said: “A new ‘psychological contract’ will only work if it’s based on the same unambiguous outcome – better mental health and financial and physical wellbeing – and each party should play their respective roles to uphold this.” 

In response to the report’s findings, Aviva made a series of recommendations it believes will help employers reset relationships with employees. 

It advised that employers should personalise mental health and wellbeing support; maintain a sense of purpose, clarity and autonomy in the workplace; prepare workers for fuller working lives and the transition from work to retirement and create more targeted interventions by understanding personality types.

By Emma Greedy HRMagazine


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