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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.”

How to support new employees’ holistic health this National Careers Week

By Cheryl McKown, Apprenticeship and Graduate Senior Manager for Bupa Global & UK

A tumultuous 24 months has led many people to think carefully about their careers and many are now looking for a change in career or a new role that will be fulfilling and rewarding. 

New starters benefit businesses, as they bring fresh perspectives and up to date industry insights, and successful placements can lead to productive, long-term working relationships. So how can businesses ensure that they are fully supporting their new recruits to stay happy, healthy and motivated?

Create supportive networks
Helping your new starter to grow into your team starts with getting to know them. It’s important to embrace what makes them different and in doing this, you’ll create an environment where everyone is encouraged to be themselves. 

Think about ways you can help new people bond and collaborate with others at their level – for example, you could create a buddy or mentor system, connecting new starters with those who have a little more experience, as well as providing access to dedicated online forums and channels.

Employees who feel that their organisation takes an active interest in their wellbeing are more likely to stay motivated, engaged and loyal. Think about arranging informal get-togethers, either virtually or in person to help them to feel part of the team from the off.

Encourage a good work-life balance
Particularly at first, some people may find a new role challenging and time consuming as they get to know the ins and outs of the business.

Instil good time management skills by working together with your new starter to plan how they’ll manage their time. In getting to know them, you’ll get an idea of how they use their free time and what a good work-life balance looks like for them. 

Work-life balance is really important in protecting against things like burn out, anxiety and stress, so make sure your people are also building in time let off steam and recharge.

Some people love yoga, others prefer to hit the gym and some might find cooking or crafts help them relax. Getting enough sleep is also crucial.

Embrace diversity
As well as celebrating individualism, embracing those from different demographics and with different cognitive styles helps to open the floor to ideas from all employees at all levels. This can harness insightful views from a range of backgrounds, leading to a wider understanding of what your business offers and can provide, from a diverse mindset.

If your new starter is from a background that’s not yet well represented across the rest of your organisation, think about how you can specifically support them so that they feel comfortable and included. 

At Bupa Global & UK, we launched the ‘Be You at Bupa’ commitment to reiterate that everyone in our business – from all backgrounds – can feel comfortable bringing their whole self to work every day. By celebrating and supporting people’s differences, we aim to promote collaboration, encouraging everyone to feel comfortable working here.

Feedback is key
Taking the time to check in with your new starter can go a long way to helping them feel listened to and appreciated, which can foster better wellbeing and company loyalty. Additionally, an open-door approach can help people to feel psychologically safe approaching you with any queries or concerns about their learning.

A simple ‘thank you’ or ‘well done’ goes a long way to boosting employees’ feeling of worth. Feeling properly rewarded for workplace efforts helps to boost mental wellbeing and decrease stress.

Regular appraisals or one-to-one sessions give you and your employee the chance to speak freely, helping you to gauge what they are enjoying and make any adjustments to help them enjoy their role more. As well as listening to them, these check-ins provide the chance to provide any constructive feedback, too.

Promote good all-round health
If you introduce your new starter to a workplace culture that places value on the benefits of being honest and open about both mental and physical help, they’re more likely to follow suit and feel confident to put their health first if they ever need to.

Promoting a positive culture like this will encourage your new team member – as well as the rest of your team – to bring their full self to work. Finding out what makes your people tick can help you to understand them better, spot any signs that they need further support, and generate an inclusive team spirit with increased productivity.

You can help to further support your employees by ensuring that they’ve got access to employee wellbeing services, like Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs), GP appointments or health assessments.

Employers have big role to play when it comes to tackling NHS backlog

The impact of the continuing Covid pandemic means that health and wellbeing support in 2022 will be hugely influenced by factors outside of the work environment. Brett Hill, distribution director at Towergate Health & Protection makes his predictions for the coming year and explains how employers will play a crucial role…

The impact of missed cancer diagnoses will be seen
With an estimated 50,000 ‘missed’ cancer diagnoses1, health services, businesses and employees will be impacted as previously undetected cases come to the fore. It will be essential for employers to support people with increased screening, treatment and rehabilitation.

State provision will be limited
NHS waiting lists will continue to grow while hospitals battle the backlog of operations and procedures that were cancelled during the pandemic. By the end of the year, NHS waiting lists are likely to exceed 8 million2.

Prevention will prevail 
There will be a rise in employees and their employers looking for support for preventative health and wellbeing solutions. A more holistic approach will be taken. More companies will offer apps to improve education around nutrition and fitness. Help will be made available with smoking cessation and alcohol management, as well as screening services being offered for early diagnosis and treatment.

Enhanced communication will be required 
Communication of benefits will need to ramp up. Employers will need to clearly and effectively communicate the advantages of lifestyle changes and the benefits of regular health screenings. They will have to find new ways to communicate messages to engage with the hybrid workforce of today and tomorrow.

The rise of digital will continue
Health and wellbeing support will be accessed more online. As has been seen with virtual GP services and the emergence of benefits portals and health apps, more companies will adopt this method for more of their benefits.

Health and wellbeing support will be crucial to recruitment
Employee expectations of what an employer should provide have changed as a result of the pandemic, and comprehensive, engaging health and wellbeing programmes will become increasingly important in attracting and retaining talent.

Greater emphasis on diversity and inclusion 
Employee benefits will need to support a culture of diversity and inclusion. Companies will need help in selecting the right benefits programmes to ensure they are inclusive and to help with recruiting and retaining a wide demographic of employees.

Employees will need to increasingly turn to their employers for health and wellbeing support in 2022, due to the limitations of state provision while the country recovers from the impact of Covid. The good news is that comprehensive support is available and that relatively simple options, like cancer screening, are extremely cost effective and can have a hugely positive impact.

Solve ‘presenteeism’ to avoid rising absenteeism in 2022

New research from Canada Life has revealed that a third (35%) of UK adults have continued to work while feeling unwell in the past 18 months, rising to almost half (46%) among those aged 18-34 years.

They also found that almost one-third (32%) of those working from home felt more pressure regarding presenteeism – where employees work despite being ill.

The reasons behind people working whilst ill is half thought the illness was not serious enough to take time off for, 27% said their workload was too high and almost a quarter (24%) were worried about the financial implications of taking sick leave.

Reacting to this issue, Adrian Lewis, Commercial Director at Activ People HR is warning employers to be on the lookout for ‘presenteeism’ so that this doesn’t translate into rising absenteeism.

He said: “The pandemic has changed the world of work and many people are still working remotely. This can make working whilst ill more common as people think as they are at home they should just plough on. With the end of furlough and some firms laying workers off they can also be fearful of their jobs or experiencing pressure from increased workloads so feel they can’t take time off.

“Working whilst unwell is never a good idea as people can become sicker and take more time off in the end. It can be a vicious circle, but it’s important employers understand why people aren’t taking time off when they need to and to address any issues that may exist in their workplace culture.

“One solution is to invest in absence management software that can help organisations spot trends such as someone not taking all their annual leave or taking more time off than usual sick – both of which can signal something is wrong. Having the right systems in place adds transparency and help companies understand their employees’ behaviour.

“This software also encourages employers to undertake back to work interviews after they’ve been off sick, even if these have to be done remotely if people are working at home. These are vital as they offer the opportunity to find out what has been wrong and for employees to discuss any concerns they have confidentially.

“These conversations can reveal if someone has worked whilst ill before finally taking time off prompting questions as to why they felt they needed to do this. Having visibility over what is going on in the workforce can enable employers to make sure they are promoting the right culture where people feel able to have time off if needed and that they will have the support of their employer.

“Neither presenteeism nor absenteeism is good for business and can impact productivity, so tackling them both in 2022 is essential; especially as firms try to recover after Covid.”

The difference between life and death

Every year in the UK, over 30,000 people suffer from a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) out-of-hospital. Where the Emergency Services attempt to resuscitate, less than 10% will survive.[1]

Many Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) victims can be saved if they receive immediate treatment before the Emergency Services arrive, including Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation which shocks the heart to resume a normal rhythm. 

If defibrillation is delivered within three to five minutes of collapse, survival rates can be as high as 50-70%.[2]

As the Emergency Services average response time is seven minutes, having a defibrillator in your workplace could improve the chances of survival. Are you putting your workers at risk by not having one?

Many factors in the workplace can delay resuscitation, such as:

  • Remote locations that are likely to be subject to longer Emergency Service response times
  • Urban or multi-story locations where Emergency Responders find it difficult to reach 
  • Businesses with spread out facilities that could provide hazardous if first aid equipment is located in distant buildings 

Having a defibrillator in the workplace could make the difference between life and death.

Click here to find out more.


[1] https://www.bhf.org.uk/what-we-do/policy-and-public-affairs/transforming-healthcare/out-of-hospital-cardiac-arrests 

[2] https://cks.nice.org.uk/topics/cardiac-arrest-out-of-hospital-care/background-information/prognosis/

What does Health and Safety look like in a digital world?

By Bcarm

“Tech is the new muscle” is a common turn of phrase often used to discuss what lessons we can take from covid and certainly digitisation is a way to upgrade your health and safety organisation.

As a Health and Safety professional, any risk management system, unless in the simplest, lowest risk organisation is complicated.

  • There are many activities
  • These may involve many people
  • It has to operate in a dynamic environment
  • There needs to be a robust audit trail
  • There may be conflicting pressures in the business.

Anything that creates difficulty in the process creates operational and engagement barriers that can undermine the management of risk in the business.

Anything that makes the process easier, more convenient, with less operational friction will see better levels of risk management and this is where a digital health and safety management system can deliver both cost benefits and improved engagement by the business.

Digitisation can make a difference as the “muscle” that enables people. In our recent webinar “Risk Assessment in a Digital World”, 70% of attendees said it would “significantly enhance” their process.

In helping clients make the necessary transitions to leverage the benefit of “digital”, we are helping them tackle a wide range of issues from document migration, training and also process evolution and we’re keen to learn more to help take the unknown out of the process.

Take part in our 4-question survey – and you could receive Health and Safety training for up to 250 employees*

We’re undertaking an industry-wide survey for Health and Safety professionals to help us better understand their concerns and priorities of managing H&S in a digital world.

All Health and Safety professionals taking part in the survey will be entered into a free prize draw to win a year’s licence to our E-Learning package for up to 250 employees!* 

For more info and to take part in the survey click here: https://survey.hsforms.com/1aDusl0ovS_euxzDSvzHK2w2u2zn

*See T&Cs in link

The long and short of it: The effects of long Covid in the workplace

If health and safety professionals were in any doubt about it, it’s clear that the long-term effects of COVID-19 will be felt and discussed for many years to come, with many employees still feeling the daily effects, due to what is known as “Long Covid.”

A recent Office of National Statistics study indicates that over one-fifth of those diagnosed with COVID-19 are still suffering the ‘long’ symptoms for the following five weeks, while one-in-ten presented symptoms that lasted for three months or longer.

But what is ‘long COVID?

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) identifies Long COVID as lasting for a duration longer than 12 weeks. The Guardian recently estimated that 376,000 people in the UK have been suffering from Long Covid for more than a year, with older patients, women, those with underlying health conditions and those in their 40-50s most likely affected. Symptoms can include:

  • Fatigue, or extreme tiredness
  • Breathlessness and difficulty in breathing
  • Racing pulse
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Prolonged fever
  • Dizziness
  • “Brain fog” – not being able to concentrate or think clearly

Managing employees with Long Covid

While most natural reactions would be to isolate and encourage Long COVID sufferers to work from home, it is not infectious. The reintroduction of these employees to a stable workplace may in fact aid some of the mental issues caused by Long COVID, including depression and loneliness.

In certain circumstances, a healthcare package or offering for staff is key. Private healthcare options can provide employees with access to healthcare, both physically and mentally to help manage their symptoms. Provision will also give staff a higher level of satisfaction, even if only they appreciate the feeling of being able to access help voluntarily.

The camaraderie and support through the initial months of the pandemic was crucial, and employers should continue to foster this spirit adequately in order to support staff and colleagues affected by changes to their working patterns. 

Wellbeing is an important part of the Long COVID journey. It impacts all pillars of health from mental, social, physical and financial. The expert team at hero can help you to create a COVID recovery package that will help and support you and your teams effectively manage this area. For more information please get in touch with hero.

Majority of UK & Irish workers want to stay away from the office

67% of UK and Irish office workers are reluctant to return to the office post-Covid. That’s according to a new European study by global workplace creation experts Unispace.

The study – which combined the results of an in-depth survey of 3,000 office workers, 2,750 employers in leadership roles at organisations with 50+ employees, and interviews with global senior leaders in Real Estate, HR and Operations – also revealed that business leaders themselves are concerned about returning to work, with 71% reluctant about going back into the office.

When asked why employees are reluctant to return, the commute was cited as the greatest concern. 41% of respondents welcomed the extra time available when not having to travel to work; 31% stated they did not want to spend extra money returning to the workplace. This concern is reflected in the number of employees looking for employers to pay for their travel costs, with 75% of workers indicating this would encourage them back to the workplace. The data also revealed that having free lunches provided would entice 73% of employees back to the office.

While 41% felt they were more productive in the workplace than at home, almost all – 93% – of UK and Irish office workers would make changes to their current workplace – one of the highest of all countries surveyed. The most popular amends included creating more private spaces (cited by 25% of employees), improving the lay-out (23%) and adding more amenities (22%).

According to the study, the steps being taken by UK and Irish employers to entice employees back into the workplace are not aligned with what employees themselves actually want. Business respondents reported introducing a number of new measures including heightened safety protocols (cited by 40% of respondents), having flexible start times (36%) and separate spaces for collaboration and quiet working (32%), which do not align with the preferences indicated by the office workers themselves.

Lawrence Mohiuddine, CEO EMEA at Unispace, commented: “The UK and Ireland were two of the few countries polled across Europe where employers were more reluctant to return than their employees. While we can certainly see a clear trend in concerns around the commute for workers in these two locations, the mismatch between the incentives that businesses are implementing and what employees really want to feel encouraged back to the workplace does suggest some employers only understand their workforce at a surface-level.

“With so many employees indicating a desire for workplace improvements, there is clearly a need to re-think workspaces across the UK and Ireland to encourage employees back.”

EBOOK: Health & Wellbeing meets Health & Safety – What you need to know

By Hero Wellbeing

Let’s face it, the world has changed since the global COVID-19 pandemic and what we thought was the norm, has been replaced by new ways of thinking and working.

Health and wellbeing has been propelled into the corporate spotlight, but health and wellbeing is broad and doesn’t just sit comfortably in the HR team, it has a substantial impact on health and safety.

This ebook from hero explores how the changing face of health and safety and how the modern day health and safety manager can create happier, healthier, and more productive workforces.

Lack of employer psychological health awareness leaves staff at higher risk of depression

A year-long Australian population study has found that full time workers employed by organisations that fail to prioritise their employees’ mental health have a threefold increased risk of being diagnosed with depression.

And while working long hours is a risk factor for dying from cardiovascular disease or having a stroke, poor management practices pose a greater risk for depression, the researchers found.

The University of South Australia study, published in the British Medical Journal, is led by UniSA’s Psychosocial Safety Climate Observatory, the world’s first research platform exploring workplace psychological health and safety.

Psychosocial safety climate (PSC) is the term used to describe management practices and communication and participation systems that protect workers’ mental health and safety.

Lead author, Dr Amy Zadow, said that poor workplace mental health can be traced back to poor management practices, priorities and values, which then flows through to high job demands and low resources.

“Evidence shows that companies who fail to reward or acknowledge their employees for hard work, impose unreasonable demands on workers, and do not give them autonomy, are placing their staff at a much greater risk of depression,” said Dr Zadow.

Internationally renowned expert on workplace mental health, ARC Laureate Professor Maureen Dollard, says the study found that while enthusiastic and committed workers are valued, working long hours can lead to depression. Men are also more likely to become depressed if their workplace pays scant attention to their psychological health.

Due to the global burden of depression, which affects an estimated 300 million people worldwide and shows no sign of abating despite available treatments, more attention is now being paid to poorly functioning work environments which could contribute to the problem.

High levels of burnout and workplace bullying are also linked to corporations’ failure to support workers’ mental health.

A second paper co-authored by Professor Dollard and published in the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology earlier this month, found that low PSC was an important predictor of bullying and emotional exhaustion.

“Lack of consultation with employees and unions over workplace health and safety issues, and little support for stress prevention, is linked to low PSC in companies.

“We also found that bullying in a work unit can not only negatively affect the victim, but also the perpetrator and team members who witness that behaviour. It is not uncommon for everyone in the same unit to experience burnout as a result.

“In this study we investigated bullying in a group context and why it occurs. Sometimes stress is a trigger for bullying and in the worst cases it can set an ‘acceptable’ level of behaviour for other members of the team. But above all bullying can be predicted from a company’s commitment to mental health, so it can be prevented,” Prof Dollard added.

The global costs of workplace bullying and worker burnout are significant, manifested in absenteeism, poor work engagement, stress leave and low productivity.

The extent of the problem was recognised in 2019 with the International Labour Organization (ILO) implementing a Global Commission on the Future of Work and calling for “a human-centred approach, putting people and the work they do at the centre of economic and social policy and business practice”.

“The practical implications of this research are far reaching. High levels of worker burnout are extremely costly to organisations and it’s clear that top-level organisational change is needed to address the issue,” Prof Dollard said.

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