From a technical perspective, working from home has worked out surprisingly well for most during the pandemic. The picture is likely to look less positive from a mental health perspective. Businesses should address potential issues as part of their duty of care to staff.
As someone who has a spouse donning personal protective equipment (PPE) and working in an NHS ‘hot hub’ every day, testing has been a constant topic of discussion at home for the last ten weeks. Like me, I am sure you have been following the UK government’s attempts for 100,000, now 200,000 tests a day and have been buoyed by recent news indicating antibody tests are arriving and even vaccines might be just around the corner.
The current pandemic will change the UK workplace in ways no one would have predicted a few months ago. Several weeks of lockdown are likely to have lasting effects on work processes as well as on employees, requiring a review of the corporate benefits strategy to adapt the offering to the altered needs of employees post pandemic.
Working from home was widely introduced as a rapid response to contain the Covid-19 outbreak. It was intended to be a temporary measure, but since it seems to have become the new normal for many in the foreseeable future, employers may need to step up their efforts to comply with their duty of care towards staff.
So-called gig economy companies which rely on an independent workforce are facing the downside of this loose relationship during the COVID-19 outbreak as workers struggle due to the lack of protection and employee benefits.
Companies will need to adapt their benefits suite to include the UK’s new legal right to paid parental bereavement leave but also allow for some flexibility in its application.
There is growing awareness among employers that addressing mental health problems makes good business sense, but the oil & gas sector may need to catch up.
Money may not buy happiness but there is an ever increasing amount of research corroborating the link between financial wellbeing and mental/physical health. While employers are widely offering solutions for their employees’ potential mental or physical health issues in their benefits offering, they are mostly neglecting the need for financial wellbeing. An imbalance that needs to be addressed.