Allianz UK adjusts support for staff with chronic health conditions

A surge in chronic conditions since lockdown has seen insurer Allianz UK implement a range of more sophisticated processes and systems.

A more detailed workplace adjustment process, rolled out across its 27 nationwide branches in April 2023, triaged nearly 300 people requiring adjustments last year to appropriate forms of support. Around two-thirds of these had chronic conditions.

Diana Salmon, head of occupational health and safety at Allianz UK, says: “We had only been expecting around 20 workplace adjustment cases over the last year, and the numbers were still increasing this first quarter.

“Around one-third of the chronic conditions involve lower back pain. And once neck, shoulders and upper back problems are added, the proportion rises to half. These clearly result from increased homeworking, so we ensure workstation assessments are undertaken. But lockdown seems to have made no real difference to mental health case numbers.”

As all 7,674 employees are members of the organisation’s group income protection scheme, almost all with chronic conditions benefit from its rehabilitation services, and some use the government’s Access to Work scheme.

One-to-one line manager conversations and strong employee networks also play important roles in managing the conditions, as does information on intranet sites enabling employees to investigate what they have been diagnosed with.

“Flexible-working policies have gone up a gear since lockdown,” adds Salmon. “And there is a lot more freedom for sufferers to choose which offices they go to and when they come in. This has helped us become much more proactive in recruiting people with chronic conditions.

“Since lockdown, we have taken on those with everything from musculoskeletal problems, hearing impairments and epilepsy to mobility-challenged individuals in wheelchairs. And we ensure we have the appropriate equipment from day one.”