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Managing Our Way Out of COVID-19

Today’s challenge for us all in business is: “how do we get our businesses back up and running with the easing of lockdown?”

Returning businesses to full economic activity will be difficult and require business leaders to use all their skills and ingenuity. Business leaders need to make sure that they take all the practical steps to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of staff, be that in the workplace or for those working remotely. The actions taken need to be communicated to all staff, to create confidence and build momentum. Without this as a starting point, businesses will not instil the right working climate on which to build success, in what will be for sure turbulent market conditions.

The forecast economic scenario is bleak, with the Bank of England predicting that it will take a year for the economy to return to normal and that in the meantime the UK economy may shrink by up to 14%, as many sectors are hit by the impact of lockdown and social distancing (1). The prognosis for unemployment is also negative with the rate forecast to rise from 4% to 9%. The fall in business activity due to lockdown is leading businesses to cut their employee numbers to reduce costs and with this comes the knock-on effect of decreasing end user consumption (1).

Given the forecasts from the Bank of England, it is unclear what the speed of recovery will be. Whilst lockdown measures are being relaxed, there are lingering fears over what a resurgence of the virus could mean for families and businesses if they must continue to take precautionary measures well after lockdown controls are lifted. It is therefore down to business leaders to ensure that employees are fully engaged and focused on restarting economic activity.

The building of this business confidence starts with employers effectively managing the concerns that employees have around their own health, safety, and personal financial security. Many businesses have already invested in home working technology, such as laptops and soft phones, and made use of virtual technology to facilitate communications, including using it for social team events, as they move their businesses to long-term remote working. In creating a positive work culture, businesses need to be seen to be doing the right thing for their staff, as there is no better motivator than the feeling that the organisation is looking after its people. It is important that companies avoid burnout and help to build wellbeing resilience by providing a tangible safety net of support.

There are a whole range of benefits and support services that employers should be harnessing for their business. The starting point is looking after the mental and physical wellbeing of employees and line managers, provided through such services as: employee assistance programmes, health coaching, virtual health consultations, and ensuring that there is a continuity of healthcare through private medical insurance and cash plans, especially at a time when NHS healthcare facilities remain under intense pressure. These benefits not only support and manage problems as they arise, but they also serve to promote workplace wellbeing by giving employees access to information and virtual training. Importantly these services can provide the human touch of allowing people to speak to others, whilst always remembering that they allow employees to confidentially discuss any concerns they have with a professional.

In addition to health and wellbeing, employers need to look at how to reward and motivate staff to manage performance through the provision of benefits such as: peer to peer recognition, learning and development, retail discounts covering on-line retailers as well as high street shops once they open. The focus should be about adding value to employees so that they encouraged to contribute to the best of their abilities.

The provision of cutting-edge solutions such as an employee benefits platform will also aid the communications gap between on-site employees and those working remotely. The benefits platform can help with push notifications and regular messaging, which often have a greater impact and success than emails. Importantly the benefits platform can host all the benefits provided by an employer and so readily demonstrate the range of support provided.

The impact of Covid-19 means that employers more than ever must make sure that they introduce a full range of health and wellbeing services and including a benefits platform so that its communication capabilities are used to full advantage in linking with employees and helping them navigate through difficult times.

Notes:

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/business/live/2020/may/07/bank-of-england-interest-rates-covid-19-downturn-us-job-losses-business-live?page=with:block-5eb3a8318f086792686da230#block-5eb3a8318f086792686da230

 

Wojciech Dochan

Managing Director, Busy Bees Benefits

Provider of the SmartHive Platform busybeesbenefits.com

Smart Hive is an integrated, cost effective employee benefits platform that provides your employees with access to all their health and wellbeing benefits in one place. Talk to a member of our team today or book your very own demonstration.