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Employers need to increase support for their employees' health

The NHS has been dealing with a backlog of patients due to the pandemic, but medical care provider RedArc said employers should be doing more to support employees who are awaiting diagnosis and health treatments.

RedArc managing director Christine Husbands told HR magazine that when employers make medical experts available to staff it can make a big difference.

“Employees often don’t know what is available and how to access it, but vitally, they often don’t know what would be helpful for their specific condition and circumstances,” she said.

“It is not unusual for employees to look up their symptoms on the internet and become very distressed based on incorrect information.

“Ill-health is a worrying and often a very complicated time, so having access to a professional with plenty of time and expert knowledge can make a huge difference.”

She stressed that employers now have a greater level of responsibility to ensure employee mental and physical health is properly supported.

“The pandemic has brought a new layer of additional anxiety to us all. For those with physical or mental health conditions, symptoms and concerns are likely to be exacerbated.

“The NHS is under pressure coping with the additional demands of COVID-19 patients as well as many other knock-on effects to other NHS services. Coupled with the anxieties felt by those with health conditions, concerns about travelling, use of public transport and attending medical settings all leads to a situation where many people are not accessing the medical help that they should be.

“Therefore, unless employers increase their support for their employees, there could be a significant negative impact on their workforce over time.”

Further reading

Setting a standard for employee wellbeing

Employee health already decreasing due to remote working

Returning to work could create a mental health concern for HR

Many employers are likely to continue with much higher levels of remote working, which could lead to a change in how a workplace caters to employee wellbeing.

Husbands said that she believes having employees work from home will make remote access to health support more important than ever.

“Employers should use solutions that offer access via an app or portal, giving wellbeing tools to aid self-care and when necessary facilitate easy access to professionals for additional support,” she said.

Line managers, she added, also play a vital role in supporting employee mental health.

“They need to be attentive and notice when an employee changes behaviour, perhaps becomes disengaged from online social opportunities or less productive.

“It’s much harder to spot the signs of mental ill health when not working face to face, which is why it’s especially important to provide easy access to professional support and ensure employees know it is there and how to access it.