Navigating today’s workplace: Prioritising employee well-being
Economies around the world are returning to normalcy and organisations are starting to reckon with a radically transformed workplace. The old way of work arrangement has been permanently altered, and employees are placing greater importance to their well-being.
Are organisations adapting to employees’ needs fast enough? According to Expedia’s annual Vacation Deprivation Study 2023, over two in three of Singapore’s workforce felt more burnt out in 2022 than they did in previous years.
Feeling the heat of burnt-out employees
Even while working remotely, employees around the globe continue to face burnout due to overwhelming expectations to be constantly available. In fact, many Singapore employees hold fast to this fear and forgo their personal time off. Three in five Singapore employees reported being so busy at work such that they can rarely use all their vacation days each year, while 28% of Singaporeans feel that their work schedule did not allow for a vacation, compared to 16% of global employees.
The increasingly blurred boundary between work and personal life has become the bane for many as the constant connectivity has made it difficult to disengage from work, leading to prolonged working hours, increased stress levels, and a lack of proper rest. Some even feel the need to continue working during their holidays.
While over half of Singapore employees were able to travel more due to more flexible work policies, four in five agreed that flexible work arrangements have made it more difficult to fully unplug from work when on vacation.
While organisations have progressively introduced office perks, such as exercise classes and free meals, to improve employees’ welfare and moral, these are typically ignorant of the root factors contributing to burnout – employees feeling compelled to be online at any time of the day.
So, what do organisations do in this situation?
The people-oriented approach for the future of work
To meet the needs of the modern-day employee, the way forward is a people-oriented approach that closely involves employees. With this approach, organisations will have to embrace the future of work with policies that empowers employees to prioritise their well-being – be it encouraging them to take real time off work or resetting expectations around flexible work arrangements across the board.
“To meet the needs of the modern-day employee, the way forward is a people-oriented approach that closely involves employees.” – Lavinia Rajaram, Travel Expert, Asia Public Relations Director, Expedia Group.
It is vital that organisations understand the importance of downtime for their employees to take a much-needed mental break, whether it is a holiday or just a day off to focus on personal needs and duties. The understanding extends to co-employees as they play a key role in fostering and maintaining the culture that empowers employees to feel guilt-free in taking the time off they need. Some small actions that can help kickstart a change in the organisational culture includes establishing clear delegation and handover processes, as well as discouraging employees’ habit of leaving their mobile contacts in out-of-office messages.
For organisations that require employees to return to office, it is also important to ensure that in-office days are purpose-driven and meaningful, for example, ensuring face-to-face interactions to make up for lost social time during the pandemic.
At the end of the day, workers need to feel fulfilled in the present to see value in the work that they do – it comes as no surprise that the benefit taking precedence are additional paid time off. People are made for travel and a vacation often gives workers the well-needed break to recalibrate. In fact, the study revealed that close to nine in ten of employees feel more motivated and productive at work following a vacation.
Benefits packages and total employee rewards have always been critical to ensure your organisation is an attractive place to be for the talents you want to find and retain – and that’s as true with a hybrid workplace as it always has been. What’s changed for the future of work, is what employees value, and how empowered they feel to ask for it. While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to crafting an employee total rewards package that best fits your organisation, we can agree that recognising the shift – and reacting – will be essential.
The bottom line: Smart organisations will embrace, and cater to these preferences, to create and cultivate a healthy and productive workforce.
About the author: Lavinia Rajaram is a Travel Expert and Asia Public Relations Director at Expedia Group.