Employee Wellbeing: No industry or sector has been unaffected by the outbreak of COVID-19. Many people have had to make significant changes to their daily lives, at relatively short notice, including how they work – whether that’s hours, location, or even being able to do their job at all. The impact will be felt for years to come. With the big return to work after lockdown restrictions are lifted next month, we consider just how different it will be for both employers and employees.
Employee wellbeing -Employers cannot force their employees to return to work if it is unsafe. There is a duty on employers, HR, OH professionals, and employees to understand how to make the workplace safe, their role in that process, and the need to be involved and work together in making those decisions. Decisions about return to work should occur in a non-discriminatory way.
A risk assessment should link clinical vulnerability risk to specific workplace risks. Also need to be aware of the risks of increased workplace tensions and disputes, arising from changes to workplace practices and working arrangements, and from fear of infection on return to work.
Occupational health and other professionals can assist managers with risk assessments e.g. with advice on cleaning, disinfection, ergonomic and hygiene/ventilation systems and how ‘stringent social distancing’ can be applied in the workplace.
The role of the manager and ‘doing things in a compassionate way’ is critical. Also, consulting with employees in this unprecedented situation is highly important, and legally required where there are recognised trade unions. Employees having an active and valued voice in this situation will be absolutely critical to businesses adapting successfully. There is a need to strengthen the relationship between employer and employee to inform decisions that will facilitate practical solutions and support the effective work of the organisation.
Financial Wellbeing is another area that isn’t always considered when planning a workplace wellbeing programme, even though it is one of the main causes of stress among workers. Over the next few weeks and months, millions of people will be returning to the workplace. Many of us will be happy to see colleagues in person again and to hold meetings face-to-face, but many returning employees will be looking for additional support around their physical, mental and financial wellbeing.
Is your organisation ready?