|Blog Article|||||By Pam Whelan||16 November 2020|
Simplyhealth’s director of group sales, Pam Whelan, sees a greater need than ever for employers to support their employees’ wellbeing since the pandemic began.
Setting the alarm bells ringing
Isn’t it alarming how it seems to take a pandemic to bring wellbeing to the forefront in the world of work? Now businesses are waking up to the true value of a robust holistic and preventive wellbeing strategy that supports their workforce in a very practical way.
As cases of Covid-19 in the UK grew earlier this year and lockdown was enforced by the government, employers were forced to quickly adapt their benefit schemes to ensure they supported employees transitioning to remote working, being furloughed, or continuing in the workplace.
A huge concern was, how could employees cope financially, physically and mentally during this challenging time?
A fresh mind-set is just what we all needed
A shift in employer mind-set is crucial for the future of business success. Some workplace set-ups are already changing which could be a truly positive move for stagnating business models.
Flexible working is likely to stay as the new normal. Many businesses have announced a permanent move to home working, and others are relinquishing their office spaces. But of course, this has implications for employee wellbeing, so firms will need to invest more and ensure they’re well placed to support the change.
Employers can make a big difference by making homeworking easier. Creating a working space at home for many will consist of adding a desk, chair, extra monitor, and faster broadband to a spare space – instead of perching uncomfortably on a sofa in an area of the living room! And it can be costly. Subsidising office equipment is a really tangible way to help employees
Health and wellbeing support is always available
For many, the lockdown was a challenge for their mental health. The mental health charity Mind released a very powerful statement declaring a mental health emergency is on the horizon due to the pandemic1, and urged the government to take action. According to a recent survey2 by COVER, nearly 60% encountered medium, high or very high levels of anxiety during the Covid-19 crisis, compared to 92.6% experiencing low or very low levels in March, before the pandemic had taken hold of the UK.
At Simplyhealth, we send our colleagues regular emails to raise awareness of the support they have access to, including 24/7 advice and counselling, a 24/7 GP phone service, health and wellbeing webinars with industry professionals, and mindfulness and yoga sessions. This enables employees to take practical steps to staying healthy from the very start.
Virtual GP consultations are nothing new, but the pandemic is showing a shift in people’s behaviour, in accepting a virtual GP appointment as a now familiar way of ‘seeing a doctor’. Thankfully, the NHS and many health insurance providers already had the groundwork laid for changes before the pandemic.
Between May-July 2020, we experienced almost double the number of remote GP appointments booked through the Simplyhealth GP service, compared with the same period in 2019, and registrations to the app also saw a 572% increase from May-July 2020.
As we’ve explored in this interactive eBook, today many services can be provided remotely and programmes can be tailored to SMEs (99.9% of UK businesses3), as well as larger firms. With more companies needing, and even looking for external guidance on health and wellbeing topics, the onus is on brokers to seize this opportunity.
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