COVID-19 has sent ripples around the world; closing offices, construction sites and educational facilities. The world as we knew it is no longer and we’ve spent the last eight months learning how to adapt. Whilst most of the education system has returned to a new normal, with class bubbles and reduced social contact, it’s a different story for many UK businesses. Many employees across the UK are still working from home or are on the Government’s furlough scheme.
The furlough scheme allows employers to apply for a grant to cover 80% of the wages of employees who are placed on furlough. A furloughed employee is someone who is kept on the payroll rather than being dismissed or made redundant whilst there’s a lack of work. On 1st July, a new scheme ‘Flexible furlough’ was announced, meaning employees can work for part of the week and be furloughed for the rest.
What has this meant for employers?
For most UK companies, having employees either working from home or placed on flexible furlough has meant getting organised and finding ways to monitor productivity rates whilst keeping staff motivated remotely.
It has been reported that 60% of employees have been working from home during the coronavirus pandemic. Whilst businesses have had to adapt to this new way of working, it has found that working from home actually increases productivity. In fact, research shows that two-thirds of employers report increased productivity for remote workers compared to in-office workers.
Whilst productivity has been high, there has been growing concern over the wellbeing of employees. Reports show that 64% of employees are having trouble sleeping due to anxiety, 48% are working irregular work patterns and long days leading to burnout and a third feel lonely. As an employer, you have a duty of care to look after staff and therefore need to find a way to support staff whilst working remotely.
A good place to start is to keep staff motivated and engaged. Remember, a lot of your staff are used to working in a team-based environment with colleagues surrounding them. Encourage regular team meetings and care calls to make people feel included. Use this time to remind your staff that they have the support they need.
There are also many employee benefits available that support employees' health and wellbeing but also meet the needs of your business. For example, if you’re aware you need to support your staff but might not have the budget, Health Shield’s Corporate Health Cash Plan could be an ideal solution. This plan makes it easier for your employees to look after everyday healthcare needs. It also comes with a range of wellbeing services to help keep them in the best of health.
If employees have children, they’re covered up 21 while in full time education and living at home – at no extra cost! Benefits include money back on dental, optical and physiotherapy, along with access to MyWellness - an online package of health and wellbeing services such as My GP Anytime, My Counselling and a rewards scheme offering discounts on famous brands. These are just some of the benefits and services available through the voluntary cash plan that the employee pays for via payroll deduction.
Earlier this year, we asked UK employers whether their business takes employee wellbeing seriously and now, the results are in. Download now.
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