A New Year can often mean a new start for many people. January and February are often the busiest months, with people looking for a new job. However 2021 will be a different start to the year than what employers are used to due to Covid-19. Businesses will usually be looking at their staffing levels and requirements, and starting recruitment processes, sadly this year a lot of businesses are still doing their best just to survive. Employees may be returning to work after the Christmas break wondering what is happening with their jobs and hoping they will still have jobs long term, and some employees remain on furlough.
The government announced before Christmas that the furlough scheme was being extended by one month until the end of April, with 80% of employee’s wages being covered by the government. This is extra reassurance for employees who are still on furlough, but it also causes more worry and stress over when we are likely to see things returning to some kind of normality.
New Year Hopes
With the vaccine now being available and starting to be rolled out to various age groups and at-risk categories in England, we are all hoping that after spring “normality” maybe not as we knew before, but a new version can begin.
Employers may wish to look into the possibility of providing the vaccine for employees, as some businesses do with the flu vaccine. The more people who have the vaccine the sooner life will hopefully be able to return to what we all knew before.
Employers need to start 2021 with a positive attitude, yes 2020 has been a very hard year for us all, it has taught us to value life more and not to take the little things for granted and reiterated the importance of good health. For employers it has identified that businesses can still operate with certain changes, a lot of businesses overnight have seen employees working remotely from home, communicating via technologies such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams and have realised flexibility with employees can be a positive thing.
Mental Health / Wellness
New year can be a hard time for employees, they have just had Christmas, which can be stressful in itself, especially 2020 with the challenges faced from Covid-19. Less than one week before Christmas day we saw the ‘5-day relaxation’ cancelled to one day only, forcing people to change their plans, and in some areas where Tier 4 was enforced plans had to be scrapped altogether.
It is vital to remember employees need support, and focus on employees’ wellbeing. Employees who feel valued in the workplace are more likely to be motivated and committed to the work that they do, to be able to do this they need to be able to focus and look after themselves also.
The New Year is a good opportunity for employers to look at what support they provide their employees for mental health and well-being. Employees need to know their wellbeing is important to their employer and that there is support available.
Employers should look at how they offer support to their employees throughout the year, by listening and promoting open dialogues for employees to talk, promoting wellbeing and assistance if needed, this can be done in workplaces, or through employee assist programmes and also encouraging employees to take time away from work using annual leave entitlements.
Working remotely comes with its own pressures and challenges. While employees may escape the dreaded morning commute, they are susceptible to feelings of isolation, a lack of connection to their company, and an inability to maintain a healthy work-life balance. It is imperative therefore to consider your communication plans for the next few months and work out how best to ensure connection is maintained with all employees.