The company’s Zurich Risk Advisor (ZRA) app is a digital risk assessment tool aimed to empower companies to understand their mental health exposures and thus provide recommendations and insights linked to industry benchmarks; and it comes following a wealth of global reports that highlight the increasing toll that the global pandemic, and the changing workplace cultures associated with it, has had on employees.
An ‘always on’ mentality, ‘leavism’ – in which employees work excess hours to impress their boss, and ‘presenteeism’ – whereby employees work even while they’re experiencing ill health, are among these new pandemic-inspired workplace cultures that are leading to increased employee mental health risks, explains Andrea Steer, Wellbeing Lead, Zurich Resilience Solutions. And something needs to be done about it.
The legalities of work-related stress for employers
Zurich notes that while legal governing authority Hatton v Sutherland states that employers are not liable for stress-induced illness unless it was reasonably foreseeable (a legal precedent on work-related stress claims that has remained unchanged for nearly 20 years), this now needed to be looked at in context, and reassessed; managers no longer see employees on a daily basis, and management styles are subsequently less authoritative than they were pre-pandemic, reasons Zurich. As such, and with the traditional 9-5 working day no longer in existence for some industries, there is a new challenge for employers to monitor the health and wellbeing of their employees.
“The revolutionisation of the modern workplace has been significantly fast-forwarded as a result of the pandemic. Therefore, fear, uncertainty and lack of clarity clouds many people’s outlook when it comes to the future of how they will work. Organisations therefore need to ask themselves, are they managing the obvious risks around remote working as well as they could?” commented Steer.
Further to that, the increased focus on mental health in the workplace and the pressures brought about by enforced homeworking related to Covid-19 may well see an increase in the number of claims linked to mental health, Zurich warns. So, employers need to stay abreast of these issues and better manage the health and wellbeing of their staff in this new working landscape.
Helping companies to manage the health of their workforce
It’s just as well then that Zurich’s new free-to-download ZRA app – which is accessible to all UK corporations, regardless of whether or not they are Zurich customers – allows UK corporations to educate, identify and manage the mental health risks associated with their workforce.
Zurich adds that increasing evidence reveals that investment into health and wellbeing is linked to greater levels of employee resilience, something which can help companies remain competitive and helps support their long-term business sustainability.
Steer concluded: “It is also only a matter of time before the legal precedent Hatton v Sutherland will be challenged by claimants in the context of the ongoing workplace revolution. I predict that the landscape of workplace stress claims will change and develop in the coming years, which may well result in an increase in claims unless employers adapt to the challenges of the modern workplace.”