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Employee wellbeing has become a top priority for learning and development professionals as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown. We have seen this through sky rocketing engagement with our customers’ wellbeing related resources.

And we see it through research, with 42% of employees feeling anxious and 30% feeling vulnerable as a result of lockdown, according to employee engagement agency Karian and Box.

The pandemic has brought uncertainty and anxiety and it has touched everyone, from the executive board to frontline staff, to suppliers and customers. And now that some lockdown measures have been eased and employees are returning from furlough, employers now face a new phase of business operations that come with different challenges and uncertainties.

Employee concerns

In March, employee engagement company TINYpulse asked nearly 1,000 employees across customer organisations to identify their two biggest concerns related to Covid-19. The five biggest concerns were:

– Company impact
– Job security
– Gratitude/positivity
– Not catching Covid-19 at work/safety
– Working from home productivity

It would take very resilient employees not to be concerned by these factors. The reality for all employees is that there are numerous reasons to feel anxious about work. That anxiety negatively impacts on wellbeing and it explains why employees are hungry for resources that can help them stay well mentally and physically.

A ground up wellbeing agenda

For L&D teams, the wellbeing agenda has been driven from the ground up. Employees needed wellbeing-related resources and L&D teams have been proactive and responsive in supplying them. Talking on a webinar entitled L&D in an uncertain future, hosted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Sarah Lindsell, Global Chief Learning Strategist at consultancy PwC, said that data generated by employees searching for resources helped the organisation deliver what employees needed. “We used search data to understand real time what learners were looking for and we curated, changed or promoted our content accordingly.”

Research from LinkedIn Learning shows that for 69% of L&D professionals, supporting the mental health and wellbeing of employees is a new part of their role since the outbreak of the pandemic. Wellbeing is now firmly on the corporate agenda and that means it is on L&D’s agenda too.

L&D’s role in supporting the wellbeing agenda

1. Lead with data and insight

The rapid shift to working from home has meant that organisations have had to rapidly develop digital solutions to support employees. The good news is that digital solutions provide the data an L&D team needs to make effective decisions about how best to support colleagues. For PwC, analysing the search terms used by employees enabled L&D to understand what employees needed. That meant the learning team could then respond by curating resources to meet that demand. The data will show whether the resources have been effective or not.

The data will also show if there are differences between regions and business units. Do people have different needs? If L&D can establish these differences then you start to provide an even more personalised experience.

Data is not just digital, however. Learning teams can use insights from digital data to ask questions of employees, to get anecdotal feedback on whether what the data is telling them is right and whether anything is being missed. By actively listening to the business, L&D can enhance the quality of the data it is generating which in turn helps provide even more relevant and timely resources.

2. Respond at pace

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown all organisations – and employees – that working life can change very quickly, and in the most unexpected ways. This continues to be the case as there is no way to stop the virus currently. This acceleration of change and the uncertainties around the form change will take requires learning teams to be highly responsive. For wellbeing, that means monitoring what colleagues are looking for and responding quickly.

Creating new content is not always the quickest way to respond to a rapidly changing situation so consider curating resources instead. Our customers have been curating wellbeing resources throughout the pandemic, adding and removing playlists as employee demand dictates. These resources can be a mix of internal and external resources.

The key to curating effectively is to use resources from credible sources and if you have an internal wellbeing expert, use them to help curate and/or sense check the resources you gather. There are excellent resources freely available online. Just ensure you credit the source and don’t ever pass off resources as your own as it’s illegal.

3. Communicate effectively

No amount of high-quality resources will guarantee high levels of engagement. You need to communicate them effectively to the intended audience. That might include taking a campaign approach favoured by marketing teams in which you plan out communications over a period of time, drip-feeding a consistent message about the resources available. Remember, different audiences might require a slightly different message, so take the time to plan your communications so they reach the target audiences.

All employers have a statutory duty of care to ensure the physical and mental wellbeing of their employees. That means the wellbeing agenda should be promoted and role-modelled by your leadership team. The insights you generate from engagement data can help focus leaders on what the organisation needs to do to support wellbeing. Leaders that advocate for wellbeing can become your internal influencers, pushing your message on your behalf. This can be a very powerful communications tactic. Your insights should also be used as a catalyst for two-way communications between leaders and workers on the ground. Being listened to, heard and having your feedback acted on is a powerful way to engender wellbeing.

Finally, ensure you involve managers in communication plans. It is likely they will have different needs around wellbeing as they are required to support their teams directly. Make sure you provide what they need and work with managers to understand what resources their teams need. Managers are your key influencers, so involve them in your plans as soon as you can. For L&D this is about role-modelling behaviours to support wellbeing— these include being open, honest and adaptable, listening and responding with relevant resources and encouraging colleagues to share and discuss their tips and insights.

4. Educate the organisation

An outcome of this approach to supporting the wellbeing agenda is that L&D ends up with a lot of data and insights on what people need, when and potentially why. The data will show what resources work and the types of formats that are popular. All of these insights can be used to help managers and leadership teams evolve the organisation’s wellbeing strategy.

Conclusion

Covid-19 has put wellbeing on L&D’s agenda, as the LinkedIn research shows. And judging by the ongoing impact of the virus, this focus on wellbeing won’t be going away any time soon. This is a huge opportunity for L&D to provide the resources employees need to stay well and safe and to educate the organisation on what support employees need on an ongoing basis. Curating relevant resources and communicating them effectively will be key to success. As will using data to provide the insights to help guide your approach.

Use a platform that supports your new ways of working and learning. The 5App Hub can help in supporting your your L&D strategy, creating a learning culture and in aligning learning with the business needs and objectives. 

Get in touch to find out more.