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Sodexo research reveals concerns of UK workers

As workplaces reopen, research from Sodexo and Harris Interactive has shown that although many have enjoyed the benefits of working from home but 24% of UK workers said their mental wellbeing was lower than normal, a higher percentage than in other countries (15%).

The research, which was conducted in June 2020, tracked the sentiment of UK employees from both the private and public sectors during the course of the Covid-19 pandemic. Respondents were asked about a range of issues including physical and mental wellbeing, productivity and the perceived pros and cons of remote working.

Eight out of 10 employees who have worked from home during the pandemic have stated that they would like to continue working remotely, albeit on a part-time basis (33% say ideally three days per week, 30% two days per week). However, the lack of social interaction has left three out of ten feeling lonely and of those still working from home at the time of the survey 57% stated they felt nervous about work in the next few weeks/months.

Employees put a significant amount of trust in their employers to protect them, so businesses must be prepared to deliver a safe environment, illustrated by almost seven out of 10 concerned about their own health and safety at work.

Sean Haley, regional chair, Sodexo UK and Ireland, said, “Clearly the way in which we work is changing as a result of Covid-19. It’s vital that organisations understand and respond to the new demands on their workplaces and teams, to rethink employee experience and address their concerns.

“We are ready to help our clients adapt to these new demands and this research enables employers to understand how employees feel about workplaces reopening and their attitudes towards a mixed model of working both in the office or remotely. Our experts can provide advice on adapting offices spaces to ensure appropriate distancing, on enhanced cleaning and disinfection procedures, and on providing healthy, nutritious meal options for those returning to their workplace.”

Over the last few months Sodexo has been working closely with its clients to support them as they develop new workplace strategies. Its ‘rise with Sodexo’ programme offers a comprehensive step by step strategy to ensure sites can operate safely and in line with social distancing measures, and that employees are supported whether they are returning to the office or continuing to work from home.

The majority of those surveyed expressed concern about their own health and safety at work and are interested in information from their employer on measures taken to improve employees’ safety, workplace hygiene and cleanliness.

The ‘rise with Sodexo’ programme includes standards and protocols that have been clinically informed by Sodexo’s Medical Advisory Council and have been independently verified by Bureau Veritas to provide certified assurances to our clients and those we serve that we have taken proper measures to ensure the environment is safe.

This research is helping Sodexo to support its clients, helping them effectively lead teams into the next normal. Taking the insights gathered from the research Sodexo has published a Thriving in the Worklife Evolution: Insights for Adaptive Leaders to help leaders find answers and shape solutions to navigate new challenges in an agile and adaptable way.

Haley added, “At Sodexo, our mission is to support organisations to help their employees thrive. As we live through the ongoing impacts of Covid-19, we’re supporting our clients to manage disruption and plan for positive change.

As new worklife patterns and hybrid working models become the norm, we have solutions and services that can help organisations manage these transitions and help employees to thrive from concierge services to help those working from home or the office manage their life admin tasks through to comprehensive benefits and rewards programmes.

“We will continue to work closely with our clients to help them instil confidence and manage potential anxiety among the workforce and help set a positive course for the new normal.”

Other key findings from the survey includes:
• Health risks linked to Covid 19 are the primary area of concern, either for oneself or family.
• Going back to normality and seeing/working physically with co-workers were the main positives (50% and 45% respectively)
• Employees are interested by the services planned by Sodexo:
- regular audits of various processes in the company (85% are interested)
- display of hygiene and safety training certificates of service staff (86%)
- repeated safety instructions/notices around the workplace (86%)
• To increase the feeling of safety at work, employees identified the following measures:
- antibacterial gel dispensers available at several places in the premises (essential for 72%)
- physical distancing (66%)
- disposable towels or hand dryers in the toilets (65%)
- cleaning of common areas (64%)
• Between a quarter and 30% of employees think they will change their habits in terms of transportation or working hours
• New safe commuting options appear to be attractive especially among those who used public transport prior to the lockdown. The top option is a bike allowance
• Given the likely continuation of remote working, employees are eager to see new services developed to help them. A significant proportion are interested in ergonomic workstations (75%), office supplies (75%), parcel collection and drop off (72%), food/coffee delivery (64%).
• Employees are also positive about different options to keep them motivated when working from home, especially medical and health benefits (82%), and reward schemes to celebrate birthdays/successes/good performance (84%)