Tag: Return to work

COVID-19 restrictions are lifting, and workplaces are reopening, but recent research reveals that three-quarters of UK workers fear going back into the workplace because it poses a risk to their health and safety. David McCormack, CEO of employee benefits and outsourced payroll provider HIVE360, says employers should take a simple seven-step approach that will support effective management of the workforce’s return to work.

Seventy three percent of workers admit they fear a return to the workplace. Responsible employers need to take action to support workers and ease their worries, to ensure they feel secure and comfortable whenever in the workplace, and know they have their employer’s support and commitment to maintain a safe environment.

The foundation to this is our seven-step return-to-work action framework:

  1. Communicate: Ensure workers know it’s ok to feel anxious about the return to the workplace. Encourage them to talk about their feelings so you can reassure them and take any additional action to ease any worries.
  2. Stay in touch: Make a point of checking in with staff regularly and ask how they are coping.
  3. Be flexible: For those feeling uncomfortable about being in the office, give them the option to continue working from home some days each week. For those anxious about a busy commute to work, be open to an early or late start and finish time for the working day.
  4. Be safe: People are counting on their employers to help them get back to work safely, and by putting employee health, safety and wellbeing at the heart of the return-to-work planwill help reduce any stress or anxiety:
  • Be COVID-19 aware, safe and secure. Employers have statutory duties to provide a safe place of work as well as general legal duties of care towards anyone accessing or using the workplace
  • Carry out a risk assessment of the entire workplace and implement measures to minimise these risks
  • Create a clear policy of behaviour in the workplace and share it with all employees. Policies should include the rules on wearing facemasks, social distancing, hand washing and sanitising, with the relevant equipment available to all. Include clear instructions on what people should do if they or someone they live with feels unwell or tests positive for COVID-19.
  1. Be caring: With concerns about the effects of COVID-19 on society and the economy, mental health is a growing problem, but people continue to feel uncomfortable speaking about it. This is unlikely to change, so make time to show you are an employer that recognises and understands by introducing and communicating the tools, support and measures available to them to help address any fears. Give them access to specialist healthcare resources, information and health and wellbeing support.
  2. Encourage work/life balance: Poor work/life balance reduces productivity and can lead to stress and mental health problems, so build-in positive steps to help the workforce achieve it by encouraging sensible working hours, full lunch breaks, and getting outside for fresh air and exercise at least once a day.
  3. Tailor solutions: Show that you understand that everyone’s personal situation is different and that you will do your best to accommodate it. Remind people of their worth as an employee, and the positive attributes they bring to the team.

Added benefits

Employee health and wellbeing support and benefits are a ‘must have’ rather than a ‘nice to have’. Onboarding and career progression, reward and recognition policies, training and development, employee benefits, work/life balance initiatives, financial, mental health and wellbeing support, are all essential components of an effective employee engagement strategy. Together, they improve and maintain a positive working environment.

HIVE360 is an expert in recruitment agency PAYE outsourced payroll. Our HMRC-compliant solution guarantees a speedy, transparent service, with no nasty fees for workers. It also delivers efficiency gains from payroll, digital payslips, pensions auto-enrolment and pay documentation support.

HIVE360 goes further. Our unique, customisable employee pay, benefits and engagement app Engage is provided as a standard element of our outsourced payroll solution. It gives workers access to an extensive range of health and wellbeing benefits and employee support services, including:

  • 24/7, confidential access to mental health support, counsellors and GPs
  • Thousands of high street and online discounts
  • Huge mobile phone savings
  • Online training resourcesand access to the HIVE360Skills Academy
  • A secure digital payslips portal
  • A real-time workplace pension dashboard to support employees’ financial wellbeing.
  • An incident reporting system to ensure the safety of employees in the workplace, which allows workers to – anonymously – raise serious issues or concerns with their employer directly through the app.

HIVE360 is a GLAA (Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority) license holder and is championing a new model of employment administration, redefining employment and pension administration processing. Visit: www.hive360.com

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The rollout of the vaccination programme is a key factor influencing whether or not workers feel confident returning to their workplaces, according to new research.

A survey of more than 2,000 employed adults carried out for insurer Aviva in March and April found that 71% felt optimistic about going back to work due to the success of the vaccination campaign, up significantly from a previous survey carried out just after November’s lockdown.

Only 50% of respondents were optimistic about going back to work in the survey carried out in the five days ending December 1, a week before the UK’s inoculation effort kicked off on December 8.

Chris Andrews, Director of Risk Management Solutions at Aviva, said: “The vaccine rollout has had an enormous benefit to employee confidence in returning safely to the workplace.”

However, separate research from Ezra suggested that the speed of the rollout alone is not enough to convince workers – they also want to know specifically how this translates to their own workplace.

Its survey of more than 1,000 office workers found that only 51% felt confident going back to work if either they or their colleagues weren’t required to have a vaccination.

In recent months there has been much debate about the legality of ‘no jab, no job’ policies and the result would seem to be that many employers are steering clear of such policies.

Ezra’s research found that 80% of respondents did not have to be vaccinated before returning to work, while 17% were unsure of their company’s policy regarding vaccination.

This left 28% of those surveyed saying they weren’t confident about returning to work, while 21% were on the fence about it.

Nick Goldberg, Founder of Ezra, said: “It’s understandable that many of us might feel anxious about returning to the workplace while the threat of Covid remains such a big part of our day to day lives. Unfortunately, at these early stages we’re having to do so in the knowledge that either ourselves, or our colleagues, might not be fully vaccinated and remain vulnerable.”

Safety high on the agenda

While enforced vaccination may be off the cards at most offices, the Ezra research suggested employers were taking other measures to help workers feel safe.

These included socially distanced workspaces and a reduced number of staff onsite for 20% of respondents, the removal of social events for 14%, a requirement for PPE at work for 10% and a restriction on the use of communal spaces and kitchens for 10%.

One of the least commonly employed measures was weekly Covid tests, with only 6% of respondents reporting these were being used at their workplace.

However, the Aviva research suggested that workers may be more willing to undergo testing than is perhaps assumed by their employers.

Three-quarters of those surveyed by the insurer said they would be happy to be tested for Covid-19 for work, and only 7% said they would be uncomfortable with such a requirement.

But even without widespread testing, the majority of respondents in that survey felt their organisations had taken the necessary steps to allow them to return to work safely. Only 13% said they still had concerns about their health and safety at work related to coronavirus.

“Our research found that 80% of employees who have been working or furloughed feel confident their workplace is safe and that their employer has standards that they meet to keep employees and the public safe. This is a significant, positive step in our journey back to working normally,” said Aviva’s Andrews.

Photo courtesy of Canva.com

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