‘Stay at home’ – How the impact of the pandemic has changed health and wellbeing requirements at work

It is now been two years since prime minister Boris Johnson's historic televised address to the British public telling everyone to 'stay at home'.

‘Stay at home’ – How the impact of the pandemic has changed health and wellbeing requirements at work

It is now been two years since prime minister Boris Johnson’s historic televised address to the British public telling everyone to ‘stay at home’. It was this unprecedented move that put the whole country into what is now known as lockdown, impacting the lives, work, health, and wellbeing of millions of people.

Two years later and the country thankfully seems to be emerging from the worst of the pandemic. It is still there and it is definitely something that must be monitored but, for now at least, it seems to be less of an issue. However, this is not to say that employees are not still feeling the impact. Lockdown, and the pandemic overall, has irreversibly changed many lives.

Indeed, Towergate Health & Protection recently surveyed 500 HR decision makers across the UK and found that 86% of employers believe their employees would like more support for their health and wellbeing in a change to expectations since the pandemic. This is likely to be partly because employees are in need of greater support now than they were before the pandemic and also partly that priorities have changed. 

The pandemic has altered the way in which people live and work. It has changed the outlook and expectations of employees. The survey results show that employees need greater health and wellbeing support now than ever before and employers need to look at new ways to assist their staff, that match with the change in circumstances and growth in need.

The first step for employers is to find out more about the shifting circumstances and requirements their employees have. Everyone has been affected differently by the pandemic and by new ways of working. It can be counter-productive to make assumptions and employers could spend time and money introducing new initiatives and support for no one to want them.

The best way to know what employees need is to ask. Running simple health and wellbeing surveys will help an employer to understand what things have changed and what they can do as a business to help. Demonstrating that an employer cares enough to ask is a significant step in its own right. 

The next stage is actually implementing changes or new benefits and for this it is wise for an employer to take specialist advice. Health and wellbeing moved quickly to keep up with the changing needs throughout the pandemic and there are now more options available than ever before. The rise of the virtual GP and even virtual physiotherapy was something that occurred due to basic needs when social distancing was in place but now it is something that has been adopted as a way of making appointments quicker and more readily available. With many employees now working from home part or all of the time, health and wellbeing programmes today must be delivered digitally to engage with all parts of the workforce equally.

While health and wellbeing requirements may now be greater, so too are the offerings and their accessibility. With employees wanting more support for health and wellbeing, now is the time for employers to investigate how they can provide this and how it will benefit the business as a whole. Implementing a new health and wellbeing package, or adapting the existing one, to help cope with the changes will help employers avoid some of the issues of the great resignation that is currently sweeping the country. 

Building a wellbeing strategy should be as easy as A, B, C; and A stands for assess and audit. Assess is the element of asking staff and audit is about seeing what the business may already have which may help ‘ for example within their insurances. Added-value benefits may even already be available to all staff, not just those covered on the insurance. Then employers are able to look at where the gaps are and what new benefits might be needed. 

Life has undoubtedly changed, but if employers can adapt the support they offer to meet the new needs of their employees, then it is likely that the benefits will be seen on both sides.

Debra Clark
Debra Clark

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