Employers over-estimate the wellbeing benefits of hybrid working

Employers and employees have a differing opinion about the health and wellbeing impact of hybrid workingEmployers and employees have a differing opinion about the health and wellbeing impact of hybrid working, according to a new poll from GRiD. Two thirds of employers (64 percent) believe that hybrid working has had a positive impact on their employees’ health and wellbeing, but only 53 percent of employees agree. Where they do concur is on the number of people for whom hybrid working can have a negative impact, with 6 percent of employers, and 7 percent of employees, acknowledging that it is not a positive experience for everyone.

The authors of the report say it’s important to recognise that although this might look like a relatively small percentage of people who feel that hybrid working has had a negative impact on their health and wellbeing, it represents a large number of employees overall. While many people feel that a flexibility in working location is beneficial, it’s crucial that employers don’t make assumptions or change their workplaces or working practises in a way that could potentially be harmful to their workforce.

Of those employees themselves who felt that hybrid working has had a positive effect, mental wellbeing was the area that employees felt was most improved (68 percent), followed by social wellbeing (45 percent), financial wellbeing (44 percent) and physical wellbeing (43 percent). Although mental health is clearly seen as the largest beneficiary of hybrid working, and the reduced costs of commuting are associated with financial health, it’s interesting that so many employees reported on the social and physical benefits too.

Half (50 percent) of employees say they have a choice about whether to work from the office or home which largely tallies with the statistics reported by employers: 22 percent of employers said that they have given all their employees a choice about where they work from, and 34 percent have allowed some but not all of their employees to make that decision.

While there is indeed a positive impact on health and wellbeing for many, employers must not consider hybrid working as a benefit in itself. It is no replacement for a comprehensive programme of benefits to support health and wellbeing, such as private medical insurance or group risk benefits (employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness). When an employee struggles with a health or wellbeing issue, it’s important to have a full suite of support available. Working from home may help some but not all and it certainly isn’t a fix when more serious problems come to light.