returning to work, returning to the workplace, support

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In terms of long-term support measures, nearly half of those surveyed are seeking more flexibility in work hours and location (44%), followed closely by increased physical and/or mental health support (40%) beyond the pandemic.

With more employees around the world slowly returning to the office — whether on a hybrid work arrangement or full time — a new report details how this return to the workplace plays a part in employee wellbeing.

According to the second annual Global Wellbeing Report, released by Lululemon and involving 10,000 employees around the world (markets listed below), returning to the workplace has been found to drive higher wellbeing. However, it does require employers to implement lasting changes.

While the meaning of wellbeing varies for different people, for the purpose of this research, it is defined by three core elements:

  • Physical wellbeing: "Feeling like my body is in good enough physical health condition to perform the physical activities I want or need to do.
  • Mental wellbeing: "Feeling self-aware, emotionally balanced and prepared, and like I am moving in the right direction of leading a fulfilling life."
  • Social wellbeing: "Feeling connected to others and part of a supportive community."

Here are three things for employers to know:

#1: Wellbeing is higher among those who have returned or expect to return to the workplace full time vs. those who return part time, or will not return to the workplace at all.

Why is this so? According to the findings, it is because working from home during the pandemic has led to increased employment stressors. In fact, close to nine in 10 surveyed who had pivoted to working from home had experienced it in some form or the other:

  • A decline in work-life balance: 43% (Those who had no change in work environment: 31%)
  • Increased workload: 43% (Those who had no change in work environment: 31%)
  • Less physically active at work: 33% (Those who had no change in work environment: 22%)
  • Missed social aspect of working directly with others: 26% (Those who had no change in work environment: 13%)
  • Less productive at work: 17% (Those who had no change in work environment: 11%)

#2 Employees are equally worried about the loss of personal time and health & safety.

In particular, more than half (53%) of employees surveyed are concerned about the risk of exposure to COVID-19 when they return to the workplace. Breaking the data down by demographics, this concern was highest amongst Millennials (55%), followed by Gen X ( 54%), Gen Z (53%), and Boomers (49%).

At the same time, a similar number (52%) expressed concern about having less personal time. By age group, this was highest among Gen Z (69%), significantly higher than Millennials (55%), Gen X (51%), and Boomers (34%).

Last, among a separate demographic — parents — childcare poses a pressing concern for one in three surveyed with children aged below 13 (33%).

#3 Employees are looking for a "new norm", expressing a need for employer support beyond the pandemic.

Almost half of the respondents said they are seeking more flexibility in work hours and location (44%), followed closely by increased physical and/or mental health support (40%) beyond the pandemic, particularly among Gen Z employees as well as employees who are parents.  

During the pandemic, these figures stand at 46% and 41% respectively.

Interestingly, while almost all support measures listed did see a slight drop in the percentage of employees seeking them beyond the pandemic, there was a 1% increase in employees seeking personal days beyond the pandemic. 

Overall, the key long-term support that employees are seeking include:

  • Clear and transparent communication: 31% for during and beyond the pandemic
  • Health and safety measures: 31% for during, 27% for beyond the pandemic
  • Financial support for work-related expenses: 29% for during, 27% for beyond the pandemic
  • Seeking employee input on important issues: 28% for during and beyond the pandemic
  • Amount of employee personal days: 28% for during, 29% for beyond the pandemic

Snapshot: Wellbeing in Australia, China, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea

Top drivers of wellbeing

Australia

  • "I feel confident in myself most of the time."
  • "I consider myself to be in good physical health."
  • "I am able to manage stress effectively."
  • "I feel like I have enough energy to be able to accomplish the things I need to do every day."
  • "I feel like I am in tune with my emotions."
  • "I have a good work/school/home life balance."
  • "I usually get enough sleep to feel well-rested."

China

  • "I consider myself to be in good physical health."
  • "I feel confident in myself most of the time."
  • "I feel like I am in a good place when it comes to personal finances."
  • "I feel like I have enough energy to be able to accomplish the things I need to do every day."
  • "I feel like I am in tune with my emotions."
  • "Growing up in my household, mental wellbeing was acknowledged."
  • "I usually get enough sleep to feel well-rested."
  • "It is important for me to give back to my community."

Japan

  • "I consider myself to be in good physical health."
  • "I have a good work/school/home life balance."
  • "I feel like I am in tune with my emotions."
  • "I feel like I have enough energy to be able to accomplish the things I need to do every day."
  • "Growing up in my household, mental wellbeing was acknowledged."
  • "I am able to manage stress effectively."
  • "I feel comfortable in my home."
  • "I put a lot of effort into staying connected with people I care about."

Singapore

  • "I consider myself to be in good physical health."
  • "I feel confident in myself most of the time."
  • "I am able to manage stress effectively."
  • "I have a good work/school/home life balance."
  • "I usually get enough sleep to feel well-rested."
  • "I am on track to meet my financial goals."
  • "I understand my finances and feel confident managing them."
  • "Growing up in my household, mental wellbeing was acknowledged."

South Korea

  • "I consider myself to be in good physical health."
  • "I feel like I have enough energy to be able to accomplish the things I need to do every day."
  • "I am able to manage stress effectively."
  • "I have a good work/school/home life balance."
  • "I feel like I am in tune with my emotions."
  • "Growing up in my household, mental wellbeing was acknowledged."
  • "I feel confident in myself most of the time."
  • "I am actively trying to expand my social circle."

Top barriers to wellbeing

Australia

  • Lack of a support network (54%)
  • Stress (52%)
  • Lack of money (51%)
  • COVID-19 (48%)
  • Health conditions (47%)
  • Lack of time (40%)
  • Lack of knowledge (32%)

China

  • Lack of time (62%)
  • Lack of a support network (58%)
  • Stress (56%)
  • Lack of money (52%)
  • COVID-19 (51%)
  • Lack of knowledge (45%)
  • Health conditions (38%)

Japan

  • Stress (54%)
  • Lack of a support network (49%)
  • Lack of money (44%)
  • COVID-19 (42%)
  • Lack of time (38%)
  • Health conditions (36%)
  • Lack of knowledge (32%)

Singapore

  • COVID-19 (66%)
  • Lack of time (54%)
  • Stress (51%)
  • Lack of a support network (47%)
  • Lack of money (43%)
  • Lack of knowledge (32%)
  • Health conditions (27%)

South Korea

  • COVID-19 (66%)
  • Stress (60%)
  • Lack of a support network (55%)
  • Lack of time (51%)
  • Lack of money (49%)
  • Lack of knowledge (38%)
  • Health conditions (31%)

Concerns in returning to the workplace, and areas of support employees are seeking

Australia

  • Concerns: Risk of exposure to COVID-19 (58%), less personal time (49%)
  • Support wanted: Flexibility in work hours/location (40%), physical/mental health support (36%)

China

  • Concerns: Risk of exposure to COVID-19 (56%), less personal time (55%)
  • Support wanted: Physical/mental health support (50%), flexibility in work hours/location (44%)

Japan

  • Concerns: Risk of exposure to COVID-19 (48%), less personal time (47%)
  • Support wanted: Flexibility in work hours/location (33%), physical/mental health support (21%)

Singapore

  • Concerns: Risk of exposure to COVID-19 (62%), less personal time (52%)
  • Support wanted: Flexibility in work hours/location (58%), physical/mental health support (48%)

South Korea

  • Concerns: Risk of exposure to COVID-19 (61%), less personal time (49%)
  • Support wanted: Flexibility in work hours/location (48%), physical/mental health support (48%)

Methodology 

Research for the Global Wellbeing Report 2022  was fielded from 13 October to 15 November 2021, and included 10,000 general population adults globally.

In particular, these respondents were from Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, the UK, and the US, with 1,000 respondents per market.


Image / Lululemon's Global Wellbeing Report 2022

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