Employees feel positive about returning to work but infection risk remains a concern.
As the COVID-19 lockdown eases and people slowly start returning to work, evidence is emerging that individuals are not confident that their employers can keep them safe.
According to a recent survey of more than 2,000 employed adults by Aviva, while 61% of people returning to work believe their employer will put suitable safety measures in place to protect them from COVID-19, 35% say they don’t trust their employer to make the workplace safe. As a result, these individuals say they will not be returning to work for their employer.
This revelation should act as a wake-up call for employers that aren’t putting the safety of their staff first.
Half (49%) of British workers say they are positive overall about returning to work after the lockdown, while less than one in five (18%) say they feel negative. The remaining 33% said they feel neither positive or negative about returning to work.
Infection remains the top concern for employees
For employees who feel neutral or negative about returning to work, infection remains their number one concern. Whether that’s being infected by a colleague (44%) or a customer (33%), employees are most concerned about virus transmission in the workplace.
As if it wasn’t clear enough already, this reality underlines the need for employers to embrace clear prevention strategies to protect their people and the public. Furthermore, concerns about returning to work differ depending on a person’s age, where they live and the industry they work in.
For example, the biggest concern for young people returning to work is confusion and a lack of communication over social distancing (39%). This highlights that employers need to be prioritising communication and ensuring their strategies are as effective as possible.
Meanwhile, the greatest concern facing Londoners is actually getting to work, with nearly half (47%) saying commuting by public transport is their number one worry.
Finally and rather interestingly, healthcare workers recorded the lowest levels of personal concern with regards to infection from colleagues (38%). This group also had a relatively low score regarding infection from patients (34%). The construction industry was the most concerned about infection from colleagues at 60%.
Speaking about the findings of the survey, Chris Andrews, head of risk management solutions at Aviva, said: “As Britain gets back to business after lockdown, employees want to know that their employers have taken all the necessary steps, and what those steps are. That means not just taking action but engaging with employees on their concerns and clearly communicating what is in place and addressing anything that remains unresolved.”
While the findings of the Aviva survey paint a relatively positive picture overall for employers that have sought to support their staff throughout the lockdown, it should come as a stark warning to those that haven’t — especially seeing as a significant proportion of employees say they won’t return.
Businesses that regularly communicated with furloughed employees and those working from home, as well as taken the necessary steps to reduce the risk of infection once individuals have returned to work, will reap the most rewards.
Claire Ginnelly is the Managing Director of Premier Choice Health and has been in the private medical insurance industry since 1991. All her experience has been gained working for large insurance companies managing the distribution of health insurance products through intermediaries. She has held senior positions within Standard Life Healthcare, as Head of Intermediary Sales, and Groupama Healthcare, as Head of Distribution.