"It’s important for employers to highlight that these services aren’t just there for when things go wrong, but to proactively support with guidance day to day and prevent bigger worries and challenges."
- Adrian Matthews, head of employee benefits at MetLife UK
With the summer holidays on the horizon, MetLife has warned that employers must prioritise additional support for employees facing increasingly higher workloads. The global provider highlighted that although some work diaries will begin to look lighter, some will dramatically increase as they take on the workload of colleagues on annual leave and manage the challenges of childcare/hybrid working throughout the summer period.
While communication, flexibility, and encouraging work-life boundaries are common in the workplace, to maintain employee wellbeing, productivity, and avoid burnout MetLife believes additional seasonal considerations are necessary.
Discussing seasonal support, Adrian Matthews, head of employee benefits at MetLife UK, believes implementing regular check-ins (both in-person and virtually) could help employers feel confident that they’re listening to the challenges their employees are facing and nip potential issues in the bud as soon as they come to light.
“Dialling up 2-way communication is key in busy periods. It’s a win-win as teams feel supported and for managers, it’s a good way to watch for signs that may indicate an employee is struggling emotionally or displaying early warning signs of burnout so they can step in.”
Meanwhile, Matthews warned employers about conscientious staff who may be tempted to take work devices with them on holiday. He felt that it’s the responsibility of employers and managers to reinforce the importance of switching off when on holiday. Similarly, upon their return, he emphasised the importance of making sure employees aren’t overwhelmed by the work they’re coming back to. Matthews suggested setting up a peer system whereby a colleague emails any updates to the returning employee the day before they’re back in the office to alleviate the “overwhelming feeling many of us get whilst scrolling through hundreds of unread emails.”
“It may also lessen the likeliness of feeling stressed immediately after returning, allowing greater flexibility on their first day back to catch up with progress and emails can mentally be very important.”
Promoting the importance of movement, Matthews said that employers must make sure employees are able to get outside each day, whether they’re working remotely or in the office. He suggested that employees should be encouraged to sit outside for lunch, workout in the garden or exercise outside when they would usually do their commute to work to create a healthier work-life balance. For those working in the office, Matthews suggested walking to alleviate stress and improve physical symptoms including neck, back, and shoulder aches. He felt this could be achieved through more walking meetings and time away from screens to build “increased engagement whilst also benefitting their health.”
Although signposting employee assistance programmes (EAP) is imperative throughout the year, Matthews felt it was especially important to remind employees about the key resources available during the summer months. “It’s important for employers to highlight that these services aren’t just there for when things go wrong, but to proactively support with guidance day to day and prevent bigger worries and challenges,” he concluded.