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Improving Employee Well-being in a Hybrid Model of Working

Stephen Conchie - Regional President, Asia Pacific and China, Herbalife July 27, 2023

The pandemic has accelerated the trend of hybrid working. The hybrid model incorporates a mixture of in-office and remote work and may look different for every company. However, there is one thing in common - a greater need for employers to focus on employee well-being, as they work towards creating the new normal.

Beyond enabling a healthier workforce, companies should put employees’ well-being first. This will enable them to foster motivated and engaged teams with the ability to weather challenges and thrive post pandemic.

Over the past two years, we carried out various workplace initiatives and policies across Asia Pacific markets. In light of changing hybrid work arrangements, we have curated a few key tips based on these experiences.

Prioritize community building at the workplace

Companies are more than a business – they should function as a community. However, the hybrid and remote working model can pose hurdles for employers aiming to build a great workplace culture, and Employees who are seeking a stronger work relationships and a sense of belonging.

To promote community building in a hybrid work environment, office spaces can be redesigned. They can take the form of collaboration hubs and community building spaces, which are conducive to team collaboration and casual networking.

Business and human resource leaders can also design programs to foster better team relationships. Fitness and wellness-themed challenges or group activities can promote better interaction and bonding. They can also set up channels for employees to reach out for work and personal development-related support. This will help staff feel like they are part of a community and aptly guided in their career journey with the company.

Enhance wellness support as part of employee benefits

The pandemic has accelerated focus on employees’ well-being, as well as on their physical and mental health. According to Qualtrics’ 2022 Employee Experience Trends report, the level of employee well-being at key APAC hubs is the lowest – 65% for Singapore and Hong Kong. More employees are making conscious career decisions that will benefit their physical and mental health in the long run.

To help address the issue, companies can take a step further by enhancing their physical and mental wellness benefits. This could include the following:

  • Offering subsidies for fitness memberships
  • Organizing group workouts and health talk sessions by external experts
  • Mental health assistance programs that provide confidential, on-demand counselling services to help employees cope with personal and work-related problems.

Besides well-being resources, companies can consider providing their employees with greater work flexibility. As an executive team, we encourage our leaders to listen to employee feedback. We can then evolve our approach to balance what’s best for their teams with the requirements of the business.

Encourage good nutrition habits

The onus of ensuring employee well-being should not fall on employers alone. Employees should also take the necessary measures to maintain both their physical and mental health. However, amidst their busy schedules, many opt for quick meal fixes that could sometimes be unhealthy, or skip meals altogether. Both are equally damaging habits for our health.

It is proven that good nutrition is key to improving both physical and mental well-being. In an article by Harvard Health Publishing, studies show that the risk of depression is 25%-35% lower amongst those who eat balanced meals consisting vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grains and protein. According to the 2021 Herbalife Asia Pacific Health Inertia Survey, 1 in 2 Singaporeans who saw improvement in their physical health during the pandemic attributed it to eating healthier meals.

Food is fuel and provides much-needed energy to support our bodies. It is important for employees to regularly eat balanced meals whenever they work in office or at home. A balanced nutrition diet ensures that the body gets the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals it needs to function. During hectic days, they can always opt for protein shakes that provide them with their daily nutrition needs.

Take time for physical and mental health

The 2021 Herbalife Asia Pacific Health Inertia Survey also found that Singaporeans attributed exercising more as an important reason for their improved physical and mental well-being during the pandemic. Also, 53% of Singaporeans stated having more personal time and space is among the key reasons for their improved overall well-being.

To maintain physical and mental wellness which are closely linked to each other, employees are strongly encouraged to set aside time to either exercise or engage in activities that will help relieve stress or improve their mood. This could include:

  • Finding a creative outlet by reconnecting with pastimes or favorite hobbies
  • Staying active through recreational activities.
  • Practicing meditation
  • Connecting with friends and family either over a meal or an activity

Being in a good mood may also have a positive impact on their productivity and efficiency at work.

With hybrid working being the norm moving forward, improving employee well-being in the workplace should be a key priority. This requires efforts from both employers and workers in order to navigate the needs and challenges of this new workstyle.

This article was first published in The Active Age