The coronavirus outbreak has caused significant and sudden changes to the way we work, with businesses and employees forced to adapt quickly.
Return to work and employee wellbeing

As lockdown measures begin to lift, employees will be looking to their employers to provide guidance during these uncertain times. Many employers are having to plan for different outcomes and in recent research undertaken by Gallagher amongst business leaders, over half (52%) cited employee wellbeing as their biggest concern as they reopen premises. There is certainly much to think about and navigate to ensure your business can open safely, look after employee wellbeing and maintain profitability.

Making work attractive and providing reassurance to employees is key to encourage their return to work. Employers need to identify obstacles that may prevent or delay a return or require workers to remain away from the workplace. A conversation about returning to work between line managers and employees is critical. They need to cover what the first day back will be like, what to expect, issues relating to the commute and workplace strategies to minimise risk.

Staff confidence comes from them being engaged and confident that their concerns are being listened to and acted upon, as well as knowing that the employer is putting in appropriate health and safety measures.

Employers should ensure the organisation culture is inclusive and every employee feels they are returning to a supportive and caring environment. The pandemic has had an unequal impact across the workforce, as different employee groups, and individuals, will have been affected in diverse ways according to factors such as their job role, and demographic/personal circumstances.

Many people may come back with depleted mental health. There are many reasons for this including increased demands at home due to caring responsibilities, concerns about finances and job security, changing workload and work location, impact of being furloughed, bereavement and anxiety related to the fear of COVID-19 itself. Mentally healthy workplaces will be a priority as the nation transitions out of lockdown.

Alistair Dornan, Director of Organisational Wellbeing at Gallagher, said: “It is important to make the return easy and barrier-free recognising some employees may need additional support, and some will be handling the return to work differently. The role of leaders in setting expectations, providing reassurance, confidence and setting companywide goals and intentions is highly important as is an open-minded approach.”

Gallagher offers a range of services to help businesses manage wellbeing and mental health in the workplace. It is currently running a number of online one hour sessions specifically aimed at helping organisations in the current changing environment.

The mental health awareness session looks at the main mental health issues that face the UK workforce today, especially in these uncertain times, and helps employees to better understand how their own mental health, as well as that of others, works.

The stress and resilience session will help managers develop a personal definition of what stress is, the signs and symptoms that they may experience or display if they are stressed and the health risks of short and long-term stress. It will help them understand their personal vulnerability to stress and, that by identifying things that cause them stress and managing these in a different way, and by having a range of healthy coping strategies, they can reduce the impact that stress has on their physical and mental health.

The listen wellbeing B.U.D.I.E.S session develops support networks for managers and team members to promote positive mental health and wellbeing. Managers learn how to implement the Wellbeing B.U.D.I.E.S. programme to support one another in the workplace, in addition to learning non-judgmental listening skills and what to do in a mental health crisis. This session can be broken down into two elements to suit requirements.

The LEAD session is the vital element to the training course for all managers. Whilst all previous sessions are designed to help the individual; the ongoing theme throughout is to then apply this learning to team members too. The LEAD session will give the managers the skills and confidence to implement mental wellbeing initiatives into their teams; deal with issues arising and spot signs early enough to avoid a long-term crisis. Importantly they will all be more aware of how to ‘look-out for’ and support each other.

To find out more about these sessions and the wider support Gallagher offers to help businesses with employee and organisational wellbeing please contact your usual Gallagher representative.

This note is not intended to give legal or financial advice, and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon for such. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and/or market practice in this area. In preparing this note we have relied on information sourced from third parties and we make no claims as to the completeness or accuracy of the information contained herein. It reflects our understanding as 07/08/2020, but you will recognise that matters concerning COVID-19 are fast changing across the world. You should not act upon information in this bulletin nor determine not to act, without first seeking specific legal and/or specialist advice. Our advice to our clients is as an insurance broker and is provided subject to specific terms and conditions, the terms of which take precedence over any representations in this document. No third party to whom this is passed can rely on it. We and our officers, employees or agents shall not be responsible for any loss whatsoever arising from the recipient’s reliance upon any information we provide herein and exclude liability for the content to fullest extent permitted by law. Should you require advice about your specific insurance arrangements or specific claim circumstances, please get in touch with your usual contact at Gallagher. FinProms reference FP1066-2020

All data unless otherwise stated from research conducted by Opinium on behalf of Gallagher, between 26 June and 3 July, amongst 1008 senior decision makers in businesses employing over 250 people.