Helping employers to build resilience at crucial stage in the pandemic
Laya healthcare’s final playbook on resilience shows organisations how to support their staff in what is, hopefully, the final stage of the pandemic
Employers need to continue to protect the psychological safety of their staff and to continue to promote the message that it’s okay to speak up if things aren’t okay. Photograph: Getty Images
As good news grows in relation to a Covid-19 vaccine, employers will need to double down on workforce resilience.
It’s the message delivered by Fostering Resilience, the fourth and final playbook in a series of free resources from laya healthcare, available to download as part of The Great Reset: A Brave New Era of Work & Wellbeing.
The series is designed to help employers and human resources practitioners as they navigate through the pandemic, setting out the strategies they can use to support their staff.
“The vaccine news is fantastic and gives us all hope but, as the Taoiseach has pointed out, it’s not a quick fix. We are still coming in and out of various levels of restrictions, including lockdowns, so we need to stay resilient for the long haul,” says Sinéad Proos, laya healthcare’s head of health and wellbeing.
“We have to remain vigilant. We have to hang in there and continue to follow all the government guidelines because Covid-19 remains a threat,” says Proos.
Employers need to continue to protect the psychological safety of their staff. To really support people you have to provide a different approach for different people. One size no longer fits all,” she points out.
Flexibility is key for some workers. “It’s the most important thing you can give parents. If they say they can’t get to the office or do a particular piece of work from home because they’ve a child at home sick, maybe they can log on later and do it then,” Proos says.
Employers will need to put new structures in place to support those working remotely in the future
For ‘Gen Zs’, the youngest demographic in the workplace, being assured they can leave at 5pm can mean far more, she explains.
Those living alone may need different supports. “For people who are isolated, in a lockdown situation, you might be the only person they speak to all day,” she says.
Layered on top of all of this is laya heathcare’s research finding that one in three people has an underlying health condition such as asthma, diabetes or high blood pressure. These unique insights have been informed by the largest piece of research the healthcare provider has ever undertaken. Carried out by an international insights and research agency on behalf of laya healthcare in July, it is based on an independent survey of more than 1,000 employees and 188 employers, as well as in-depth interviews with human resource leaders and business owners.
In such situations, having access to laya healthcare’s expert occupational health supports can help an employee who might, for example, be reticent about a return to the office.
This is important because the post-Covid-19 workplace is likely to be a hybrid involving both home and remote working.
“A large amount of people will not want to continue working the way they did previously. Employers will need to put new structures in place to support those working remotely in the future,” she says.
[Download Fostering Resilience, the fourth and final playbook in the series, available now.]
A digital default
Digital supports will be the default for a range of health and wellbeing benefits. “You cannot exclude those who choose to work remotely. You will no longer be able to talk about bringing in the best speakers to your in-house event, nor having the best gym onsite. Employers now have to rethink what onsite and offsite really means if they want to ensure an inclusive workplace,” Proos says.
That will lead to a more widespread adoption of digital wellbeing services such as telehealth and digital delivery of fitness supports, as these are benefits that will be equally accessible to all.
The time is right. “Any HR executive will tell you that mobilising remote workforces was in their three to five year strategy. They just didn’t expect to have to put it into action in a matter of weeks,” she points out.
What the pandemic has done is provide a clear testing ground, proving home working works. “Home working has completely changed what the office means. The trend among big US companies was to have doctors, gyms, occupational health and ergonomics all on site, but as that’s not fair for those who are not onsite, how are they going to address this bias?”
Laya healthcare’s survey already indicates a worrying ‘mismatch of concerns’. Some 66 per cent of employers are worried about the impact of Covid-19 on employees’ emotional health, but only 22 per cent of employees say their company’s leadership provides good health and wellbeing support.
It is well known that poor mental health is a risk factor for chronic physical conditions. As such laya healthcare is poised to offer support. As well as being Ireland’s second largest health insurer, it is the leading provider of choice for workplace health and wellbeing, delivering more than 3,000 programmes and services to 2,000 companies annually
Have a Healthcoach on your team
Laya’s Healthcoach service can help, allowing members to book an online consultation with a qualified Healthcoach. During a consultation they complete a series of health checks and have the opportunity to discuss their health and wellbeing goals.
They then get a tailored fitness, nutrition and wellbeing programme, delivered via an app, on which they can track their progress, connect with online mentoring and message their Healthcoach for direct support.
Such a digital first strategy pays dividends, not least when home working may refer to staff working in a different country.
“For HR professionals, it’s important to realise what is within your control, and going after that,” says Proos.
“Ask yourself what a resilient workforce looks like to you. Set six- and 12-month goals for your organisation and key performance indicators to track progress along the way. Prior to Covid-19, managing the health and wellbeing of a remote workforce was not seen as an essential issue. Now organisations are asking themselves how they can ensure the psychological safety of someone they don’t even see? It isn’t a nice to have any more, it’s a have to have.”
Employers have a legal duty of care for all workers, including those working remotely
Laya healthcare’s health and wellbeing pan-Ireland network of health and wellbeing experts can help with access to remote working consultations and the laya health 24/7 Mental Wellbeing Support Programme available as part of unrestricted member benefits until December 2021. “Whether it’s occupational health, remote work training, building resilience or learning how to keep energy levels up when you’re coaching a team through a computer, it’s important to draw on the right expertise,” Proos says.
Afterall, employers have a legal duty of care for all workers, including those working remotely. The good news is that the supports are there to help build resilience, she points out.
Getting it right will matter long after the pandemic is gone.
“How you treated your employees during this time will be remembered from a talent acquisition and retention point of view for years to come,” says Proos.
Learn how to build resilience in your workplace with laya healthcare’s free resource, designed to guide you in supporting your workforce with relevant digital wellbeing programmes. Download Fostering Resilience, the fourth and final playbook in the series, available now.
Insurance provided by Elips Insurance Limited trading as Laya Healthcare. Laya Healthcare Limited, trading as Laya Healthcare and Laya Life, is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. Unrestricted benefits are available until the end of December 2021. Fair usage policy applies.