Despite vaccinations ramping up in the UK, the mental health consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic are likely to stretch far and wide for some time to come. While the ongoing situation obviously presents many challenges for employers, those that seize the presented opportunities will come through this in the best shape.
Indeed, Aviva’s Age of Ambiguity research reveals the true impact of the current situation on the health of the UK workforce.
According to the Aviva research, in August, 43% of employees ranked their mental health between ‘very bad’ and ‘fair’ — a rise of 5% since February. Furthermore, more than half of respondents (52%) agreed the boundaries between their work and home life are becoming increasingly blurred (an increase of 12% from February). As a result, many employees are now working longer hours and not taking time off when they’re unwell (a phenomenon known as ‘presenteeism’).
If left to continue, these behaviours are likely to have a detrimental impact on employees’ physical and mental wellbeing. Employers may experience an increase in sickness absence and staff attrition, right at the time when they need their most valuable assets: their employees.
While the Aviva research does reveal that employers are taking positive steps to support their employees, sadly, their efforts are having limited impact on morale and motivation. In fact, just a quarter of employees agreed that their employer is genuinely concerned about their wellbeing.
One of the best ways employers can reduce and manage absence is through early intervention. Indeed, by taking a proactive approach, employers can benefit from significantly reduced associated costs and shorter employee absences.
While little can be done to prevent short-term illnesses, like coughs, colds and stomach bugs, most other conditions — especially those that are mental health- and musculoskeletal-related — benefit from early intervention.
Even though the NHS does a sterling job, the Covid pandemic has pushed it to its limits. That’s why services that are included with many Group Risk policies, such as Employee Assistance Programmes, virtual nurse/doctor support and second medical opinion options, can be worth their weight in gold for both employers and employees alike.
Furthermore, by providing such benefits, employers can emphasise just how much they care about their staff. And don’t forget, the longer an employee is absent, the more difficult it can become to get them to return to work, which is why early intervention and prevention are so important.
However, the key is to take a holistic approach to health and wellbeing; one that promotes healthy living, such as regular exercise and certain dietary choices, as well as protection products to help employees get back on track should they find themselves unwell.
Early intervention can make a huge difference when it comes to reducing and managing absence. If you’re not sure where to start or don’t know what options are available, have a chat with us today. We pride ourselves on providing you with honest, professional advice suited to your and your employees’ needs.