Covid-19 has locked down the country for the past 2 months and the government is making plans to ease the lockdown and get Britain moving again. Rightly or wrongly and whether the time is right is questionable. For parents being told it's safe to send children to school in 1st June, this is a highly anxious and worrying time. Ultimately the decision to send your child in is a very personal choice. Parents will rightly have huge concerns and be extremely anxious about the risk of exposing their children to others in a small classroom, breathing the same air regardless of being 2 metres apart.
Your employees will no doubt be asking similar questions about their work place:
Is it safe?
Will I have PPE?
What support will be provided?
The evidence around the world suggests easing lock down too early could have devastating effects but at the same time, this decision around easing the lock down will happen and has to happen at some point. The big question is for all businesses small and large across the UK is how do we make the workplace safe?
There are two sides to that question:
1. Physical safety
2. Emotional safety
With regards to the physical safety of staff there is a wealth of information about the best way to provide a safe working space such as distancing, PPE, ensuring one-way systems are in place, staggering work times to minimise the number of people in the workplace at any one time etc. In fact the list is rather long and most employers should be able to select the best fit for their business.
When it comes to emotional safety and the well-being of staff returning to work there is a distinct lack of that advice and support.
With experts predicting a tsunami of mental health issues arising from the covid-19 pandemic and all the worry, stress and anxiety it has caused, the emotional safety of staff is something that must be addressed to ensure absence levels don't sky rocket upon returning to work or even before work is opened up again, potentially crippling your business.
Typically absences related to anxiety, stress or wellbeing issues, average around 3 months. If even just a few employees end up here, the cost to business can be high. With most businesses being financially squeezed by Covid-19, this cost could be the straw that breaks the camels back.
For every 80p spent on wellbeing promotion and training, a saving of approximately £4 is made.
It doesn't take a mathematician to work out the huge potential savings this can have across those few employees over their 9 months combined absence.
Typically we understand that the training budgets are quite often the first thing to get slashed in a crisis however this is one area were you may ask the question 'can we really afford not too?'
The impact of covid-19 is going to be with us for several months if not years to come. Employees will continue to be concerned and worried as the lock down eases more over time and their welfare and mental health will continue to be put under pressure as well as their personal financial pressures. Mix in the potential worries surrounding being back at work and you can see how the mounting anxiety and stress can have a negative impact.
Of course there is no simple solution to Covid-19 and the easing of lock down, however putting in place a robust wellbeing plan that supports employees and helps them manage their fears and anxieties, can provide you and your businesses with the best chance of rising up from the ashes of this virus.
Creating a positive atmosphere, with physical safety and wellbeing safety proactively addressed, you and your employees can support each other going forward. You can look to minimise absences, protect productivity, maximise profit and potentially recover ahead of those businesses who think saving that 80p is the only way to survive.
We believe the businesses of the future will survive by adapting quickly to the new way of working and living in the aftermath of this pandemic. A key part of that is to protect employees and yourself from the risk you CAN see AND help to prevent.
The Wellbeing Way - Putting Your Mental Health First