Hiring during the pandemic: Here’s what employees want from their employers

Pablo Vandenabeele shares his thoughts on what employees really want in a post-pandemic world.

After over a year of lockdowns, our working lives have completed shifted. Our values – and what we want from an employer – have changed.

With lots of change and uncertainty – both at home and work – many of us turned to Google for advice and support. It’s more important than ever to support our employees, both physically and mentally. Fortunately, new analysis of our search habits has identified what employees are really looking for in an employer.

Access to wellbeing support

With our homes becoming multifunctional spaces for both home and work it has been hard to switch off from the stresses in our working lives.

During 2020, searches on Google for the mental health conditionburnout’ increased by 45%. Burnout is when we experience high levels of stress in work which we’re unable to control – leading to many feeling exhausted. As a result, we lose motivation, feel negatively towards work, and lack productivity.

Similarly, searches for another mental health condition ‘boreout’ increased significantly by 680% in 2020. When you experience boreout, you may feel anxious, fatigued and you won’t feel challenged by your work. This is particularly common if your workload is repetitive.

Flexibility in the workplace offers employees more control, which can improve their work-life balance. It gives you greater availability to attend medical appointments, too.

Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the risk of boreout and burnout in your team. Being alert to for the warning signs, such as fatigue, stress, and anxiety, can help you respond quickly to support colleagues and reduce the risk of mental health conditions developing.

You should also make sure any mental health support your workplace offer is clearly communicated and accessible, such as any employee assistance programmes. Make sure your colleagues feel comfortable using these and explain that they can be used confidentially.

Elsewhere, encourage your employees to take their annual leave and spread it across the year. This will allow them time to switch off for longer periods of time – and help to fight the effects of burnout and boreout, too.

As we begin to navigate our way out of the pandemic, it’s important to be aware of post-lockdown anxiety. It’s normal and a natural response to feel anxious when faced with uncertainty and situations that are beyond our control, and there are lots of different ways that your team can experience post-lockdown anxiety.

Make the most of video calls with your direct reports and use this time to check-in about how they’re feeling, rather than diving straight into work.

Flexible working

With the closure of schools many parents found themselves juggling their workload and home schooling, meaning workplace flexibility quickly became more important than ever before.


Flexible working options are attractive to many employees, and can offer you more control over how, where and when you work. It’s important to be transparent and clear about the types of flexible working the organisation has considered, offered, and granted.

In March 2020, at the very beginning of the first lockdown, many parents turned to Google for advice on balancing home-schooling and work commitments – searches for ‘working from home with kids’ in March 2020 increased by 99% from the previous month.

Although schools have reopened and restrictions are beginning to ease, its important a level of flexibility in the workplace remains, as we’re still navigating our way through a difficult time. Many people will be nervous about meeting again, while others may simply not want to return to the office full-time, having successfully adjusted their routine to the year’s different working practices.

Flexibility in the workplace offers employees more control, which can improve their work-life balance. It gives you greater availability to attend medical appointments, too.

Career development

Supporting your team to develop their skills not only helps to boost their confidence, but also builds an engaged and motivating workforce.

Last year searches for ‘online learning’ increased by 400%. With Google searches for ‘boreout’ also increasing during 2020, it seems that career development has given many of us something positive to focus on and reduce the effects of burnout.

Learning a new skill doesn’t necessarily need to be work related. For example, learning a new language or craft both count towards developing your skillset.

As a manager, you can lead by example and share any opportunities of online learning where you feel your team may enjoy or benefit from. However, it is also important to communicate furthering your skills is not compulsory, to avoid putting pressure on your team.

Creativity with workplace events

Making time for your team to socialise is important for both employee wellbeing and promoting company culture.

With the festive season last year being a little different to usual, Google searches for ‘virtual team building activities’ doubled in November 2020. With social distancing expected to stay in place for a while, virtual events are a great way for your team to stay connected.

Virtual events can be simple, such as a weekly coffee catch up, post work drinks or online games and quizzes. When planning a work from home event it’s important to consider the different personalities of each of your team members.

For example, some members of your team may prefer to join in without being on camera whilst others may have to work around other commitments such as childcare. This will help your event get off to a great start and put any anxieties at ease.

Access to WFH equipment

Last year we had to quickly adjust to working from home overnight, with only one in three of us having access to a dedicated workspace. Previous research by Bupa has revealed 63% of the UK workforce have injured their back, hips, wrist, and neck over the past year whilst working from home.

It’s important for your employees’ health and wellbeing that they’re offered the correct set-up that meets their needs. Make sure each member of your team has the correct work set up, with access to a table or desk, supportive chair, and electrical equipment such as a laptop or desktop.

Train your team on the optimum workspace set up can prevent any aches and pains and support productivity. It’s important to encourage breaks away from the desk. Short, regular breaks can boost focus, re-charge your batteries, and improve your productivity.

Encourage your team to move their body, get outside, or both.


About the author

Pablo Vandenabeele is clinical director for Mental Health at Bupa UK Insurance


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