The lockdown feels a little different this time round, with vaccines providing the light at the end of the tunnel. For employers it’s about ensuring continuity for the business whilst making sure staff are kept healthy and engaged until we are all inoculated.
In the coming months, businesses should be thinking about providing all-round support which is relevant to these times. At Shire Health & Wellbeing, we can provide a number of COVID-related services which can work alongside any existing provision you have in place to help support your business and its staff.
These flexible support services can be adopted in their entirety or individually to suit your business needs. When deciding which ones your business could benefit from, keep in mind that they are designed to reduce the risk of an outbreak amongst your team, boost employee confidence about travelling to work if they need to, and reassure those who continue working from home.
The more provisions you take to protect and inspire confidence in your staff, the more you demonstrate that health and wellbeing is important to your business.
It is unclear how long this period of lockdown will be, meaning that flexibility with your support offering is key. A range of provisions should be considered for staff working both from home and in the workplace.
With this in mind, below are the COVID-related services that are available to your business:
Test and assess
More than a third of workers are concerned about catching Coronavirus on the job, according to a study by the Resolution Foundation think tank. However, the survey showed that they might not always make their concerns known.
For when the time comes to return to the office, staff might benefit from being able to air their concerns via an online questionnaire. This will then be reviewed by an occupational health practitioner, who will guide each employees’ suitability to travel into the workplace.
To further calm fears of catching COVID-19 and passing it onto family members, you may want to offer your employees home antigen testing kits, so that they can be tested as soon as they develop symptoms and receive a quick turnaround on results.
Check and observe
One in five people in England may have had Coronavirus, the latest modelling suggests, equivalent to 12.4 million people. However, many of these people won’t have known definitively whether they’ve already had it, having not been tested at the time.
From a simple blood sample, antibody testing can go some way to deciphering which employees have had COVID-19. For those who have been shown to have had the virus, it can inspire confidence as they go about their daily life, knowing they may have built up an immunity to the virus.
For those who are yet to show COVID-19 antibodies, regular temperature tests can provide some reassurance for employees and mitigate against the risk of an outbreak within the workplace.
Support and advise
The virus affects different people in different ways, as we have seen. Some people might need to consult a health professional to discuss their symptoms and seek some reassurance that they are taking the right course of action.
The 24/7 healthline and remote GP services are designed to make it easy for employees to make contact with a healthcare professional when they feel they need to.
Of course, it’s not just the direct effects of the virus that you need to be guarding against. The pandemic has heightened stress and anxiety for many people, who might need extra mental health support. The Institute for Employment Studies’ COVID-19 ‘Homeworker Wellbeing Study’ revealed that 64% of employees are reporting a loss of sleep due to worry.
The same study also showed that there has been a significant increase in musculoskeletal complaints. More than half of the survey respondents reported new aches and pains. A workstation assessment could help to alleviate some of these muscle, bone and joint issues.
It’s time to act now
You don’t need anyone to tell you the importance of keeping your workforce fit, happy and healthy the previous 10 months has highlighted this for many businesses.
Businesses who come out the other side positively will be those which make their employees’ health and wellbeing a priority, adjusting their offering so that it is fit for the times.
The right approach will ensure that you keep absenteeism to a minimum, retain productivity and emerge with an engaged and happy workforce.
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