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Employee Health And Safety: A Guide to Handling Post-Covid Challenges

Kate Williams

9 April 2024

6 min read

Your business might pride itself on employee performance. But what about its employee health and safety?

The coronavirus outbreak flipped our lives 360 degrees and changed the way we work in just a couple of months. Unfortunately, the anxiety, fear, uncertainty, and isolation affected us and brought fatal consequences. Amid this pandemic, the employees continue to suffer from work-life balance, health, and financial concerns. And what’s more unfortunate is, these concerns will stay constant even when everything ends.

Employee Health and Safety: The Impact of Covid

The pandemic has put a big question in every employer’s face regarding employee health and safety. Although WHO announced that the virus’s threat is categorically under control, many companies find it hard to cope with the employee health challenges caused by the pandemic.

  • A survey conducted by Flexjobs shows that before the crisis, 5% of employed and 7% of unemployed workers had poor mental health.
  • Now, 18% of employed workers and 27% of unemployed workers state that they suffer from poor mental health.
  • WFH work-life imbalance, fear of job losses, isolation, and poor communication have driven the sudden spike in health conditions.
  • Employees who are not accustomed to remote work face challenges like waking up late, irregular eating habits, lack of exercise, and self-care.
  • 42% of employees reported high stress due to current events, personal finances, and job responsibility.
  • Only 51% of employees felt they had emotional support from their company.
  • Most enterprises have announced flexible work hours, employee safety programs, and policies to ensure their business workflow remains stable.
  • But while giants like Twitter, Nike, Starbucks, Google, and Amazon focus on their employee health and safety policies, SMBs have struggled to keep up.

“Estimates suggest that small firms have serious problems aggravated by limited access to human, economic and technological resources. Moreover, it is now recognized that methods developed specifically for large firms cannot be transferred to smaller firms.”

Danièle ChampouxJean-Pierre Brun

Employee Health and Safety: Post-Covid

  • A Gartner poll showed that 48% of employees will likely work remotely (at least part of the time) after COVID-19.
  • 56% of U.S employees stated that they consider health benefits or health coverage a key factor for staying at their job.
  • 16% of businesses are using software more frequently to monitor their employees, like virtual logins, work computer usage tracking, and monitoring staff communications.
  • While some companies track productivity, others use software like SurveySparrow to monitor employee engagement and well-being to improve the employee experience. Try it with a free account.

Employee Health and Safety: How to Support Them During a Crisis

#1. Arrange a Crisis Team

  • First, identify all the challenges that your company and employees may face post the pandemic.
  • Then, form a response team and assign responsibilities.
  • Next, ask your team to develop a resolution plan – which ought to include the people, tools, resources, and time they’ll need to handle each challenge.
  • Implement the safety plan in phases and conduct regular meetings to track its progress.
  • Finally, review the crisis management plan with your team to analyze its effectiveness. Conduct post-implementation reviews to know if your employees have any concerns or questions about the process. Take notes and implement the learnings in future plans.

For example, the National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) intensified employee training courses during the pandemic. In addition, it formed an emergency team in coordination with all the bank’s business units. This team handled the responsibility of setting preventive measures for the company and dealing with the pandemic effortlessly.

#2. Ensure Occupational Health & Safety (OHS)

  • As the world is slowly getting back to normal, employees are returning to their organizations. Survey employees to find out what they want from the company in this return-to-work period. This will help them re-acclimate faster.
  • Train them to maintain at least six feet of distance from customers and their colleagues. Rearrange your workspace so they can walk freely and maintain a safe distance.
  • Instead of organizing only in-person meetings or interviews, add virtual meetings to the mix. Use self-captioning video software and other best practices for digital accessibility.
  • Conduct self-screening and thermal screening daily.
  • Make flexible work times the norm (according to your business threshold) and time off and shift trading.

Today’s employees care less about your comp package than your health package. According to a JUST Capital study, 84% of Americans believe worker health and safety are more important than ever before. Hence, companies are singled out for excellence in and failure to protect the health and safety of their staff.

#3. Keep Your Employees Connected

  • Focus on their emotional well-being. Encourage employees to share concerns or questions via anonymous surveys.
  • Leaders can schedule monthly pitstop meetings where they can publically address these concerns.
  • Develop creative engagement challenges like a #10YearChallenge, anecdote sharing, virtual game rooms, etc.
  • Make use of digital HR tools to track everyone’s availability.
  • You can also develop in-house initiatives that help connect other companies worldwide as they navigate this period of adjustment.

With this in mind, we created a free self-help portal and ready-to-use form catalog for NGOs, SMBs, state governments, and employees during the pandemic. This portal aims to help stranded teams collect employees’ data, report information, request assistance and do much more to stay connected with their employees.

#4. Revamp Your Health Benefit Program

  • Encourage your teams to stay healthy with initiatives like:

1.) Flexible work hours

2.) Healthy food in the cafeteria

3.) Gym memberships

4.) Free access to a health app. For example, Sensa have a special outlook specifically on employees’ well-being and are designed to make the journey towards better mental health easy.

5.) Staff-sourced online cookbooks with healthy recipes and much more.

  • Make your health plans more flexible to meet your workers’ healthcare needs.
  • Additionally, conduct online surveys to understand their expectations from the current healthcare plan.
  • Besides health policies and benefit plans, you can arrange wellness programs for your employees’ health and safety, such as weight loss programs, tele-counseling with mental health experts, etc.

Ally Financial is one such example of a company that wholeheartedly allied with its employees during the pandemic. According to Forbes Magazine, the CEO of Ally, Jeff Brown, shifted most of their employees to remote work in just a few days. Also, they launched health and wellness benefits like:

  • 100% coverage for diagnostic testing related to Covid.
  • 100% coverage for virtual health care services and doctor visits.
  • Immediate paid medical leave for Covid-affected employees.
  • Extended childcare support
  • Free counseling with professional mental health experts via text and phone.
  • Paid caregiver leave, free financial planning, an employee assistance program, and much more.

#5. Focus on Your Employees Mental Health

  • Maintain an open, safe channel where they can freely communicate and share their issues.
  • Consider using surveys such as the Mental Health Survey and the Work Stress Questionnaire to measure how your staff’s mental health and stress levels affect productivity.
  • Conduct regular check-ins with each employee and encourage them by showing support.
  • How well are your remote employees handling work-from-home? Find out with a remote employee engagement survey.
  • Challenges to health and safety can vary according to work type and status. So don’t just rely on the claims numbers – talk to them and find out what they need.

Famous companies like Starbucks, The Home Depot, and CVS provide free access to mental health professionals. In addition, Starbucks is expanding its employee mental health benefits with a program they call “Starbucks Mental Health Fundamentals.” This encourages and reassures their employees by providing resources and information related to self-care.

“Without effective reintegration programmes, adaptive, flexible and safe work environments and supportive monitoring by OHS specialists that smoothen the transition, many more and unnecessary employees will not recover (timely) from the crisis.”

Lode Godderis, Jeroen Luyten

Employee Health and Safety: How Surveys Can Help During A Crisis

  • You can’t expect your employees to self-report their discomforts and needs. However, automated surveys can help you check in with them on time and provide the push they need to share their concerns.
  • Surveys help identify the human and systemic factors that affect employee health and safety.
  • An employee health and well-being survey can help you to understand individual perceptions about office health and safety.
  • Corporate surveys are great tools for training employees in health and safety norms. In addition, you can incentivize or gamify them for better participation.
  • Survey responses can reveal opportunities for improvement by location or group.
  • Finally, online surveys are simply cheaper and less time-consuming than face-to-face interviews.

Employees Health and Safety: Six Smart Tips for Crafting the Best Survey

  1. Short, crisp, and to the point – follow this mantra. Use pre-made survey templates to save time on survey design.
  2. Use a good mix of open-ended questions, matrix, rating, and yes or no questions for in-depth data. You can make things even more creative with image-choice and video surveys.
  3. Customize them with colorful themes, videos, fonts, etc., for maximum engagement.
  4. Avoid vague questions. Direct communication is vital to get the right insights.
  5. A little planning before sending the surveys will do a lot of good. So plan out targeted, clear, and practical questions.
  6. After closing the survey, you must follow up and share the results and key takeaways with your employees. This will help you to project commitment and build trust and credibility with your employees.

According to the American Management Association, when companies frequently follow up and share survey results, employees believe their leader is taking action. In addition, 26% of employees are more likely to see their manager as an effective leader.

Finishing Up

No matter what crisis we encounter in the future or how stressful the world becomes, people will always be a core part of your organization. That’s why employee health and safety are the number one things leaders should think about in the new year of work. Thus, we hope these tips will help your company put that thought into action. Here’s an Employee Health and Safety survey to get you started!

Kate Williams

Content Marketer at SurveySparrow

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