EXCLUSIVE: HR professionals proud of pandemic support but employees see more challenges to come

EXCLUSIVE: The majority (74%) of HR and reward professionals said they were proud of the help and support their organisation had provided to staff during the pandemic so far, according to research by Edenred.

The study, which canvassed the views of 128 employers and 2,000 employees in the UK, found that 67% of HR professionals felt their business had gone ‘over and above’ its basic obligations in terms of support provided to staff.

Although there was found to be a small disconnect, the number of employees who agreed that they had been well supported through the pandemic was still high, at 64%.

The steps taken by organisations to support employees during 2022 included focusing on flexible working policies and arrangements (67%), providing new tools and technology (62%), prioritising mental wellbeing (52%) and boosting their recognition and reward schemes for individuals (46%).

Employers said their support had both made a positive difference to employee wellbeing and performance (70%) and delivered a commercial return (65%). However, only 23% said that increasing recognition for individuals had created a tangible improvement.

Looking forward to the challenges of the cost-of-living crisis, 46% of staff said they want their employer to further improve mental wellbeing support, 38% were hoping for more financial wellbeing provisions, and 64% wanted their organisation to focus on work-life balance.

Alisdair Seenan, HR director at Edenred UK said: “Having adapted well to the disruption of the last two years, HR and reward professionals should rightly feel proud of what they have achieved so far. However it’s clear that the rest of 2022 will bring new wellbeing challenges related to the cost of living crisis and issues with both recruitment and retention brought on by acute skills shortages.

“It’s now important that employer stay agile and responsive to a still-fast moving situation while taking steps to understand how the changes they have already made to employee experience and recognition are making a difference.

“This will help guide future investment on wellbeing and recognition and help organisations make sure their employee offer stays relevant. Those who fail to put sufficient measurement in place will find it hard to navigate another tough year ahead.”