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Stuart O'Brien

WEBINAR REWIND: Burnout Behind the Scenes – Health & Safety Practitioners Under Pressure

Don’t worry if you missed last week’s insightful RiskPal webinar addressing the hidden signs of burnout – you can rewatch the entire session on-demand!

The pandemic started as a whirlwind before evolving into a long-drawn-out storm. For many companies, Health & Safety practitioners became the first point of contact for the provision of advice, risk assessments and response, dramatically increasing their workload and stress. The two-year pandemic elevated the importance of Health and Safety to the forefront of business resilience and staff health. Ironically, this has meant that Health & Safety people have been under enormous emotional and physical pressure to keep their businesses going, often at the cost of their own wellbeing.

The webinar features IOSH President Louise Hosking, Ruth Denyer (Co-President of IIRSM), and Michael Byrne (Group Head of Health & Safety at News UK), reflecting on the experiences of the sector and identify unresolved issues. Most importantly it focuses on realistic solutions organisations have adopted to manage burnout amongst Health & Safety practitioners.

For more information, visit www.riskpal.com, or email info@riskpal.com.

You can watch the entire session again below:

Paid sick leave most in-demand employee benefit

Paid sick leave tops the list of benefits and incentives that matter most to British employees, according to new research by HR and payroll software provider CIPHR.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, after two years of pandemic-led disruption and rising living costs, among the most popular employee benefits are those which help supplement squeezed incomes, support people’s health, and encourage work-life balance. 

For over two-thirds (67%) of the 1,001 people polled, sick pay is the employee benefit that they value most, followed by flexible working hours (57%) and pension contribution matching (46%) – where employers offer to match employees’ pension payments on top of the minimum auto-enrolment requirements.

Mental health and wellbeing support ranks fourth. Receiving a performance bonus and working a four-day week – enabling employees to earn the same wages for fewer hours – are in fifth and sixth place (selected by 40%, 39% and 37% of people respectively).

Next on the list, in seventh place, is extra holiday allowance, which, interestingly, was preferred by more people than unlimited paid leave (32% vs 18%).

Being able to save money on purchases via an employee discounts scheme (30%), having a flexible working location (27%), and receiving a market-value salary (26%) complete the employees’ top 10.

When it comes to employee benefits, every individual’s requirements and priorities differ, of course. And the order of importance varies depending on who is being asked. For workers over 45 years old, for example, getting their pension contributions matched (to help them build a bigger pension pot faster) appears to be more beneficial than being able to work flexible hours (59% vs 45%). For those under 45 years old, who are further away from retirement, it’s the opposite – with more people in this age group ranking flexible working hours higher than pension contribution matching (57% vs 42%).

There are also a few differences between what male and female survey respondents want from their employers’ benefits packages. Statistically, women place more importance on receiving help towards childcare assistance than a market-value salary (27% vs 21%). More men, on average, favour being awarded a performance bonus over being paid a market-value salary (45% vs 34%).

Here’s a rundown of the top 15 benefits and perks for all employees:

  1. Paid sick leave (67%)
  2. Flexible working hours (57%)
  3. Pension contribution matching (46%)
  4. Mental health and wellbeing support (40%)
  5. Performance bonus (39%)
  6. Four-day work week on full-time pay (37%)
  7. Extra holiday allowance (32%)
  8. Employee discounts scheme (30%)
  9. Flexible working location (27%)
  10. Market-value salary (26%)
  11. Childcare assistance (23%)
  12. Health insurance or cash-back plans (21%)
  13. Extra paid day off for birthdays (21%)
  1. Extended paid parental leave (20%)
  2. Death benefits (18%)
  3. Unlimited paid leave (18%)

The full list – featuring the top 25 most important benefits and incentives to employees – is available to view at https://www.ciphr.com/survey-infographic-the-benefits-incentives-employees-value-most.

86% of employers think employees require more support for health and wellbeing since the pandemic


Of the four pillars of health and wellbeing – mental, physical, social, and financial health – mental health has been placed as the top issue for concern from employers and also the area where employees would most like more support, with 40% of employers saying they are more concerned about the mental health of staff since the pandemic.  

That’s according to the results from Towergate Health & Protection’s research into the changes in health and wellbeing support needed by employees since the pandemic.

Increasing concerns 

Employers are also now more concerned about all areas of health and wellbeing:

  • 22% are more concerned about the physical health of employees, with difficulty getting to see GPs, pressures on the NHS, and delays in being diagnosed and treated for serious conditions. 
  • 17% are more concerned for the financial health of employees since the pandemic. 
  • 13% are more concerned about social health including, for instance, increased isolation.

Changing expectations
Over half (53%) of employers say their employees would like more mental health support since the pandemic. Forty-one percent feel that social support is needed more than previously. Over a third (36%) believe their staff now want more support for their financial health, and another third (36%) also think employees want more help with their physical health since the pandemic. 

Overall, this means that 86% of employers believe employee expectations have changed and that they require more support for their health and wellbeing since the pandemic. 

Larger corporates Vs SMEs
The impact of the pandemic on mental health effect appears to have been felt more by employees in larger companies. Nearly half (49%) of employers in companies with 250+ staff said they are more concerned about the mental health of staff since the pandemic. This compares to 37% of SMEs. 

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of large corporates said employees would like more mental health support than previously, compared to less than half (46%) of SMEs. 

Re-evaluating 
Brett Hill, head of distribution for Towergate Health & Protection, said: “Employers need to re-evaluate their healthand wellbeing support in the wake of Covid. Working practices have changed and so have attitudes and expectations. It is important for any health and wellbeing programme to recognise the changing needs of employees and to be adaptable as we adjust to life post-pandemic.”  

Surveying needs
A good way to re-evaluate and reposition health and wellbeing is to start by asking employees what they want. This may be through a simple survey or a more complex mix of ideas forums, research, and focus groups. Being aware that requirements may have changed is an important first step.   

Making help available
While mental health has been highlighted as the biggest issue, the research shows that increased support is required across all four of the pillars of health and wellbeing. Employers need to ensure that employees have access to the support that will most benefit them and meet with their individual requirements.   A benefits platform can also assist here where employees can access all benefits in one place. 

Mental health support can be available in many forms, from talking with colleagues and managers, to offering access to specialist independent counselling. 

Health and fitness benefits have advanced greatly recently. There are now a great many apps, reward schemes and groups to help encourage staff to have a healthy lifestyle, including starting and maintaining fitness regimes. The pandemic has seen a rise in the use of virtual GPs and online consultations, and these can make appointments easier to arrange and quicker to attend. 

It is social lives that have perhaps changed the most throughout the pandemic. It is important for employers to look at new ways to allow employees to socialise together, especially if a move has been made to hybrid working. 

Financial health must not be forgotten. Financial concerns can cause a great deal of stress, leading itself to physical, mental and social ill health. Benefits that help people manage their finances, and that offer a direct financial benefit can be a great support to employees.

Hill concluded: ‘There have been a lot of challenges for businesses and their workforces to deal with during the pandemic, and these have affected all areas of health and wellbeing. Now is a good time for employers to look at solutions available for them to help their staff.’

42% of employees don’t know about or understand all their employee benefits

Research from GRiD, the industry body for the group risk sector has shown that 42% of employees don’t know about or understand all their employee benefits. According to HRs:

  • 25% are aware of them but don’t understand them all
  • 11% are aware of some of them, and
  • 6% don’t know about or understand any of them

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, said: “Employers put in a lot of time, effort and resources to get the right benefits for their staff. For them to be valued, utilised and understood, it’s absolutely vital that companies communicate them.”

Methods used to communicate benefits included apps, written and promotional campaigns, with the most popular being:

  • Email, utilised by 37% of employers
  • Staff welcome pack, utilised by 34% of employers
  • Staff handbook, utilised by 29% of employers
  • Noticeboard, utilised by 27% of employers
  • Company intranet, utilised by 24% of employers
  • Before day one of employment/offer letter, utilised by 22% of employers

Eight percent of employers admit to not communicating any employee benefits at all.

Employees themselves were asked how they like to have their benefits communicated, and the order of popularity largely mirrors what companies are doing.

  • Email, preferred by 38% of employees
  • Staff welcome pack, preferred by 25% of employees
  • Company intranet, preferred by 22% of employees
  • Staff handbook, preferred by 17% of employees
  • Before day one of employment/offer letter, preferred by 16% of employees
  • Noticeboard, preferred by 15% of employees

Moxham continued: “It’s great to see a wide range of communication methods being utilised. Different methods will resonate with different staff, so the best way to get the message across is to use a mix, including digital, written and in-person.”

Pandemic

Forty-three percent of employers say they changed how they communicate their benefits in light of the pandemic. Sixty percent increased their activity, 53% placed more emphasis on their support for wellbeing and 45% increased their investment.

Moxham concluded: “During the pandemic, people looked to their employers for support for health and wellbeing. This was an opportunity for employers to tell their staff about all the benefits they offered, from healthcare and group risk to all the embedded services such as access to virtual GPs and counselling – all the support that people needed and were struggling to get, but could access via their employee benefits.

“This increase in activity to communicate employee benefits will pay dividends and we’d encourage employers to continue with this.”

Do you specialise in Contractor Management? We want to hear from you!

Each month on Health & Safety Briefing we’re shining the spotlight on a different part of the security market – and in May we’ll be focussing on Contractor Management.

It’s all part of our ‘Recommended’ editorial feature, designed to help health & safety buyers find the best products and services available today.

So, if you’re a supplier of Contractor Management solutions and would like to be included as part of this exciting new shop window, we’d love to hear from you – for more info, contact Charlotte Povey on c.povey@forumevents.co.uk.

Our Features List in full:-

MayContractor Management
JunSite Safety
JulLone Worker Safety & Equipment
AugFire Safety Management
SepRisk Management/Assessments
OctStress Management
NovOccupational Health & Wellbeing Services
DecHealth & Safety Software

Global employers ‘need to have security evacuation plans in place’

The current situation in eastern Europe has highlighted how quickly things can escalate and the vital need for employers with overseas staff to have an emergency plan in place in case of political or civil unrest.

That’s according to Sarah Dennis, Head of International at Towergate Health & Protection said: “Employers need to be aware of the differences between security and medical evacuation plans. They must have both in place to ensure all bases are covered and they must be aware of the level of the support offered.”

Security evacuation
International medical insurance is specifically for the sick or injured. Security evacuation is different. While a political incident could result in grave physical harm or death, it is not actually a medical emergency and is unlikely to be covered by a medical emergency plan. Any region or country in which employees are working can be at risk. Terror attacks, for example, happen all around the world and often with no prior indication. With support ranging from ‘point of incident evacuation’ and ‘political or natural disaster evacuation’, to ‘security evacuation’, it is vital to take specialist advice on exactly how to offer emergency support for employees abroad. 

Evacuation and repatriation
Employers and their employees abroad should be aware that evacuation is different from repatriation. With regards to medical evacuation, for example, this means that if there are no appropriate medical facilities in the employee’s current location, they will be evacuated to the nearest centre of medical excellence to undergo care. Repatriation, however, means that the employee will be transported back to their home nation for treatment. Under security evacuation, an employee may find they are taken to the nearest safe location, rather than to their home country, unless repatriation is a specific part of the support offered.

International medical insurance
International medical insurance is also crucial for any employee abroad. It must be fit for purpose, and this will be different on a case-by-case basis. If an employee falls seriously ill abroad, it is imperative that they are fully covered for all eventualities. Travel insurance is for short holidays and is not to the level required by someone working overseas.

Local expertise
Local knowledge can form an important part of the decision-making process when sending employees abroad. Guidance from experts in country can provide an insight into the situation into which staff are being sent. They will be able to give guidance on the risks associated with an area, and help employers to make informed decisions on what support is required.   

Dennis added: “Support for employees abroad is not something that a company can take short cuts on, neither is it something that should be undertaken without advice. It is a very specialist area. Hopefully, employees and their employers will never have to rely on evacuation or repatriation services, whether for medical or security reasons. It is vital, however, that both are in place in case it is needed, and that the extent of the support is fully understood.”

73% of employees will choose next employer based on health and wellbeing support

A survey of UK employers and employees has shown that while just over half (56%) of employers admit they regularly check in with all employees to enquire about their health and wellbeing and 55% provide laptops, 73% of employees are ready to choose their next employer based on physical, health and wellbeing support and flexible technology provision.

The Future of Work survey by Ergotron, a global company designing and manufacturing ergonomic solutions to improve workspaces and interaction with technology, revealed that despite 88% of employers seeing the importance of bringing  IT devices when working in different rooms, almost a quarter (23%) of employers disagreed that the provision of the right ergonomic work conditions and support in employees’ health and overall well-being would be a strong asset in talent acquisition.

This rose to 43% in organisations with 250-500 employees, and a staggering 64% of HR industry respondents. However, the finance and tech sectors most appreciate the significance of these factors, with 80% of those in IT/telecoms and 75% of those in finance agreeing the importance.

However, employers appear to have the ambition to make a success of remote working, appreciating the importance of an agile working environment. 73% think it’s important for workers to be able to switch between sitting and standing to support their physical needs while at work (87% of businesses with 250-500 employees) and over half (52%) of workers consider it important.

Due to the need to collaborate with remote teams, and to work from home, the office or other locations, flexibility of technology, and portability of devices, has become critical too. 77% of employees and 88% of employers agreed on the importance of being able to bring their IT devices with them when working in different rooms. Yet only 55% of employers claim they are supplying a laptop to workers for home, office or third space.

Results of the survey showed a clear disparity in terms of equipment employees deem essential  and what employers provide. Despite 89% of workers and 89% of employers citing a laptop as important, only 65% of all employees claim to have been provided one and 55% of employers admit to providing one. 75% of workers and 81% of employers concurred on the importance of an ergonomic chair, yet again, only 19% of workers claimed employers had supplied them with one.

With an increasing amount of technology applications required for typical work roles, 65% of employers said it’s important to have a large screen monitor (between 30 – 49 inches) but less than a third (28%) of employees have been supplied one and 30% of employers admitted they had provided one. 15% of workers claimed employers had not provided any equipment at all – including a laptop, ergonomic chair, large monitor, or a subsidy for equipment. While 30% of employers claim to offer a subsidy to workers to buy their own equipment, only 17% of employees claim they have been offered this.

Richard Guy, Country Sales Manager UK & Ireland at Ergotron, said: “We’re now in the third year of a new workstyle for most organisations, and business leaders should by now have assessed their workspaces and at least be in planning to deliver for workers’ needs – their organisation’s biggest asset. The importance of the need for adaptable workstyles has grown hugely to build safe, healthy, productive, and collaborative working environments – and workers’ needs sit well above what their employers are currently providing. Most alarming is the lack of attention to workers’ comfort and wellbeing while at work. In addressing this and other dedicated resources for a remote or hybrid workstyle, employers will provide supportive working environments which attract and retain staff, which is the making of a business. Given the business need for digital agility, deferring remote working provision will hold organisations back regardless of size or sector.”

SAVE THE DATE: Occupational Safety & Health Forum 2023

The next Occupational Safety & Health Forum will take place on January 31st 2023 – Make sure you register for you free delegate places early!

Benefits include:

– An itinerary of one-to-one meetings with solution providers
– A seat at our industry seminar sessions (included within your itinerary)
– Lunch and refreshments are complimentary throughout
– Networking breaks to make new connections in your field

Attending buyers at the recent 2022 event included;

Astley Signs 
Avison Young
BT
DWF Law LLP
Fidelity International
Inside Out Developments LTD
KMPG
L3Harris
Modulous
Molsoncoors Beverage Company
NatWest
Openreach
PVC Manufacturers
Soilfix Limited
William Grant & Sons
Willmott Dixon Holdings
HSQE Manager 
H&S Manager 
Health & Safety Specialist  
Group HS&E Manager 
Global Health Safety and Sustainability Director 
HSE Advisor 
Head of Health and Safety
Business Support Manager
SHEQ Manager
Health & Safety Manager
H&S Manager
Head of Plant Safety
SHEQ Manaher
Director
Health & Safety Leader 
Chief HSE Officer

To register as one of our delegates, click here.

For more information and to secure your place as a supplier, contact Clair Wyld on 01992 666724 / c.wyld@forumevents.co.uk.

Whistleblowing increasing in workplaces as staff empowered to report wrongdoing

Culture changes and new hybrid working patterns created by the global pandemic are raising unforeseen HR and health and safety issues among employees, according to a new report.

The pandemic and frequent changes in rules and guidance have created uncertainty and increases in misconduct in many workplaces, resulting in higher reporting rates of whistleblowing.

Safecall’s Whistleblowing Benchmark Report 2022 highlights the rise in reporting rates, the trends, and areas of reported wrongdoing in different sectors. The data contained within this annual report – based on anonymised data from more than 750 organisations with 2.5 million employees – is aimed at helping companies and organisations understand the trends in misconduct.

Report author Greg Ogle, client account manager at Safecall, said: “The data is designed to inform and help organisations make better decisions when it comes to establishing whistleblowing arrangements. It should help HR and health & safety managers or departments to determine and measure performance of their organisation against their peers.

“There are many factors associated with an effective whistleblowing management system. Working across an extensive client base, in 108 countries, we have established best practice guidance to help organisations get the most from their whistleblowing arrangements.”

While legislation (EU Whistleblowing Directive) and compliance are among the drivers of change, many businesses and organisations see that whistleblowing establishes an improved workplace, where employees are respected, which has the added benefit of improving overall wellbeing.

Greg explained that more employees are being encouraged and empowered to do the right thing and report wrongdoing at work; likewise, more employers are recognising the ethical benefits of supporting staff to report wrongdoing safely.

The latest Report, which covers 2021, reveals that trends during the year appear to have reverted to more normal patterns after the shock of Covid-19 in 2020. Dishonest behaviour and general misconduct reports were back to similar levels seen in 2019.

However, the ongoing pandemic meant the number of health and safety reports remained higher than in past years and HR reports continued to rise.

Reporting rates vary year on year for every organisation with whistleblowing arrangements. The company culture, the current change agenda and growth strategy all contribute to the number of concerns raised by employees. Those companies that regularly promote, refresh and talk about their ‘Speak Up’ services receive more reports year on year.

Safecall evaluates reports into four classifications – HR, general, dishonest behaviour, and health & safety. During 2021 the number of health & safety reports decreased as Covid rules became more normalised and widely accepted. This was replaced by an increase in the number of general reports, mainly related to company policy and procedure. Reports continued to be predominantly HR related, accounting for more than 55% of all reports in 2021.

Within the HR classification, reports from employees are categorised under bullying, discrimination, harassment, racism, unfair treatment, and victimisation. The data reveals that ‘unfair treatment’ is the main complaint with slight increases in bullying and harassment reported in 2021.

When it comes to health & safety reports, the number of reports remains higher than pre-pandemic albeit slightly lower than in 2020. Substance abuse continues to be the main issue, particularly within certain sectors.

Dishonest behaviour reports remained consistent with 2020, albeit with a decrease in the number of integrity and fraud issues raised.

Within the general classification, there continued to be an emphasis on reputational issues along with policy / compliance matters.

The vast majority of industries receive the largest percentage of their reports in the HR category, with health & safety, and general following.

Tim Smith, Safecall operations director, said: “The pandemic seems to have accelerated different patterns of working and behaviour. This, in turn, has made more employers look at culture change and that has prompted greater interest and use of whistleblowing services.

“More companies and organisations see the benefits of creating a safe space for employees to live and work. Employers are increasingly seeing how such services protect the integrity of an organisation as well as the reputation of a brand.”

For more information, visit: https://www.safecall.co.uk/en/whistleblowing-hotline/whistleblowing-benchmark-report-2022/

Remote working has affected the way three in five employers support the health and wellbeing of staff

Fifty-nine per cent of employers say that the change in working patterns to a more remote or hybrid approach has affected the way they support the health and wellbeing of staff, according to research from GRiD, the industry body for the group risk protection sector.

Of those employers who stated that working patterns had affected the way they support the health and wellbeing of staff:

  • 49% said they have made it easier for staff to access support and benefits remotely e.g. via apps and online
  • 43% said they have introduced benefits to support employees in this new way of working e.g. for their mental and physical health
  • 38% said that they have increased support that can be accessed remotely e.g. virtual GPs and virtual physio

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD said: “Employee benefits providers and, in particular, those that offer health and wellbeingsupport, were really swift to respond to the challenges presented by the pandemic. The pace of change has been breath-taking. 

“We are now in a situation where many employee benefits, including embedded support within employer-sponsored life assurance, income protection and critical illness, have improved in two distinct ways. The method of delivery has been expanded to include additional digital channels to meet the support requirements of employees, no matter where or when they need it. Secondly, the type of support has also broadened: for instance through the likes of online physiotherapy, nutrition and fitness advice; meditation and mindfulness apps; computerised Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT); and access to virtual GPs and nurse practitioners. Some had been available previously, but have now become much more mainstream.”

Given that so much has changed, GRiD believes that employers would be prudent to benchmark their wellbeing provision against current support available and make sure they keep pace with developments, especially in supporting a hybrid workforce.

Moxham continued: “Employers may be under the illusion that they offer really innovative wellbeing support but they may be surprised just how much things have moved on if it hasn’t been reviewed for a number of years. The repercussions of the pandemic are very much still in evidence and employers have a duty to ensure they are providing the very best wellbeing support available.”