UK-based reward and benefits provider Edenre conducted a survey of 2,000 UK workers and found that with increased numbers of people working from home (two-thirds of people worked from home in the last two months – double that of early 2020), a considerable number of people were also working outside of their contracted hours (61 per cent). And we all know what this equates to: decreased job satisfaction (among 35 per cent of employees), concerns over job security (31 per cent) and a bad work-life balance (27 per cent).
Employees want enhanced mental health support
Unfortunately, all of these factors put together are a recipe for a drop in morale – and more. As such, it can hardly be surprising that one in four employees said that they would like help with mental wellbeing going forward. In addition, while the survey identified that employees were satisfied with the support given for managing work-life balance (at 73 per cent), individuals felt that employers could do better in terms of reward and recognition for staff’s work throughout the pandemic.
“The coming weeks are a critical period for employers who want to ensure their people and their organisations are in the best place to thrive as we emerge from lockdown,” commented Alisdair Seenan, HR Director at Edenred UK. “Having done a good job of getting our people through the last 12 months, we now need to act fast to ensure that whatever model of working your organisation embraces, you have the right policy, working practices and tools to meet the changing needs of your people.”
Seenan also reasoned that it is clear that employers who invest in supporting their people will be rewarded with engaged and motivated teams, Cigna also says as much. So, give the people what they want, we say. Employee assistance programme (EAP) providers and international private medical insurers have made great efforts to enhance their provision of mental health services in recent times – from AXA launching its own global health and wellbeing programme for its employees to Doctor Care Anywhere providing home delivery services for its members’ prescriptions – all of which are designed to help keep patients out of the hospital.
Remote medical services can be a burden for GPs
Elsewhere, a separate poll of 2,500 UK general practitioners (GPs) found that more than half (51 per cent) of those GPs asked were considering quitting their role or retiring early after the strain the global pandemic had caused them.
The need to self-isolate proved to be a major hurdle for GPs – 81 per cent of who said that day-to-day work had been disrupted due to staff needing to self-isolate, and a further 29 per cent said that infection control measures in primary care undermined their ability to care for patients.
Interestingly, over one-third of GPs reported finding remote consultations ‘very or extremely challenging’, with two in five of these professionals citing that they have insufficient tools to make decisions about patient care and found working conditions stressful. However, Hospitals & Healthcare notes that it therefore stands to reason that preventative practices (which include EAPs and benefits that prioritise employee’s health and wellbeing) will, in the long run, prevent a backlog of patients in need of medical care, and so lift the strain on GPs and healthcare workers.
What’s more, GPonline recently revealed that workload in general practices has skyrocketed in 2021, with English practices delivering an extra 400,000 appointments in the first three weeks of the year.
EAPs key to supporting national health services
The message highlighted in these findings is clear. People are exhausted, both physically and mentally. Employers in the UK (including those of healthcare workers) need to considerably enhance their rewards and benefits offerings to keep workers feeling acknowledged, appreciated, supported and fairly compensated for their efforts as the global pandemic continues. And, by teaming up with leadinginsurers andEAP providers who offer enhanced healthcare services (such as telemedicine, remote patient monitoring solutions and employee assistance programmes that encourage employees to engage with their health in a proactive manner), the burden will also be lifted on UK healthcare workers – in the long-term at the very least.
Never before have the actions of the assistance industry been so pivotal to the success of national healthcare services.
In a recent Industry Voice, Arjan Toor, CEO of Cigna Europe told Hospitals & Healthcare why it was important to protect employee’s mental health, no matter where they were in the world.