Wales was in a ‘firebreak’ lockdown, other areas of the UK are in different tiers of the new Covid tier system, with several northern regions now living under the most severe restrictions of tier 4. Adrian Lewis, director at Activ Absence, says as the situation is continually evolving, employers will find the next few months hugely challenging.
Adrian says, “While the government’s advice is for people to work from home where possible, the reality is that many work in roles not designed for remote working, some will be isolating and there are different restrictions in regions across Britain – making it exceptionally difficult to manage people and keep track of where they are working.”
“Another complication is that someone might be in one tier at work and another at home. Others could find themselves suddenly having to self-isolate as the increased use of the NHS track and trace will start to pick up more people who may have been in close contact with someone with Covid.
“During the first lockdown in March employers embraced remote working and many implemented polices and procedures to ensure this went as smoothly as possible. As the UK faces a winter of upheaval and varying restrictions, it’s more important than ever for employers to have robust systems in place to keep track of staff.”
Employers also have the ongoing challenge of supporting employee health and mental wellbeing. New research from the University of Glasgow amongst 3000 people revealed the first lockdown had a major impact on the UK’s mental health. One in four people said they have experienced at least moderate levels of depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts increased from 8% to 10%, and this was particularly prevalent amongst young adults (18-29 years), rising from 12.5% to 14%.
Adrian says, “Winter can affect people’s mental wellbeing in a normal year but add to the mix the impact of the pandemic and several more months of restrictions or lockdowns and some employees will really struggle and will need more support from their employers.”
“Absence management technology can track where staff are working and to gain a complete overview of which staff are working, those off sick or on holiday and those who might be self-isolating due to Covid, all of which can all be managed remotely in the cloud. This technology can also help employers manage people’s mental wellbeing as they are able to track absence and see if any patterns emerge, such as having a lot of time off or always off on a Monday. They can then contact that member of staff to find out if they need extra support. As work becomes increasingly fragmented it’s for businesses to have real-time visibility over their employees to ensure the business can run as close to normal as possible and staff are supported even if they aren’t physically in the office.”