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How the Pandemic Made Health and Wellness an HR Responsibility

How did the COVID-19 pandemic change your workplace? As we are nearing two years of economic disruption caused by the coronavirus and its variants, American workplaces struggle to go “back to normal.” While the omicron variant may have peaked throughout the country, business owners, managers, and HR teams understand that their organization has changed for good.

Not all those changes are negative. A new awareness of and focus on the importance of workplace health and wellness and mental health concerns offer opportunities to improve working environments. HR professionals have a chance to lay the foundation for an improved company culture now.

The True Cost of the COVID-19 Pandemic

When the coronavirus took hold across the United States and the rest of the world, everyone focused on caring for the sick and minimizing the spread of illness. During the second half of 2021, the medical community and businesses started to breathe a sigh of relief. It appeared that the number of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths was continuously dropping.

COVID-19 not only affected those who became infected. The pandemic changed everyone’s needs, habits, and behaviors, and many people did not find it easy to return to their previous ways. However, as companies encouraged employees to return to their offices instead of working from home, it became clear that things had changed.

Uncertainty, fueled by a rollercoaster of political decisions, affected the mental health of most Americans. And, just as it seemed that we could relax a little, the omicron variant threw a curveball. The challenges brought by the pandemic have had positive consequences, too. They have put a spotlight on mental health and workplace health and wellness.

How the Pandemic has Changed the Role of HR

Where HR professionals previously focused on hiring staff and facilitating career development, they suddenly had to write operating procedures to protect the well-being of their teams. At the same time, employers needed to navigate different positions over what it meant to protect employees’ well-being.

According to the New York Times, 17% of American employers had implemented vaccine mandates during the second half of 2021. Other employers struggled with workers quitting their jobs in large numbers. In November 2021 alone, 4.5 million Americans left their jobs.

It is becoming clear that managing traditional HR roles is no longer enough. Employers need to put the well-being of their teams at the center of their business planning.

What HR Teams Can Do Now

Medical experts worldwide continue to stress that the adverse mental effects caused by the pandemic will remain “massive, far-reaching, and long term.” HR teams are in a perfect position to mitigate some of those effects.

Employee health and wellbeing are not limited to COVID-19. A more holistic approach will allow businesses and organizations to set themselves apart from the competition. In the short term, this will help prevent the loss of staff. It will help attract top talent to the company for a long time.

While we have written in-depth about trends in health and wellbeing in 2022 before, it is worth revisiting some of the main trends:

  • Minimizing stress
  • Improving food choices
  • Addressing sleep hygiene
  • Choosing high-quality vitamins and supplements
  • Taking a more holistic view, including environmental factors

Not all these concerns can be addressed in the workplace, but at least three points that employers and their HR teams can help improve. These include offering a healthy work environment, alleviating stress, and offering more nutritious food choices at work.

Consider Working with a Partner

Although the role of HR professionals has changed during the pandemic, it would not be fair to expect them to shoulder countless additional responsibilities.

By choosing a reputable, proven partner, businesses gain access to the infrastructure, skills, and processes they need to make employee health and wellness a proper priority in 2022. Each organization may have individual requirements, but some considerations apply almost universally.

A Healthy Work Environment

Even though the threat of the omicron variant seems to be receding, many employees will still be worried about becoming infected with COVID-19. Health & Wellness providers like TrueCare™ can secure regular weekly COVID-19 testing for your team.

Consider office spaces and outdoor spaces, too. Small adjustments may have a large, positive impact.

Alleviating Stress

Can your employees indeed cope with their workload? How have they adjusted to working from home and then moving back to the office? HR professionals should know the answers of their company’s teams.

Are there potential sources of stress you can mitigate or eliminate? Stress not only diminishes employee wellbeing but also affects productivity.

Healthier Food Choices

Does your business have a cafeteria or vending machines? Consider the food and drinks you are offering employees. Of course, staff can bring their lunch and snacks, but what if you provided healthy options? A healthy workforce is a more productive workforce.

In addition, health and wellness platforms can also provide screening for illnesses and chronic conditions like diabetes.

Find out more about how we can partner with your HR team.

 

About TrueCare™ 

TrueCare™ is a nationwide Health & Wellness platform for families and businesses providing end-to-end solutions for COVID-19 testing, screening, vaccination, home care, and corporate well-being services.

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