Nick Pahl: Employers should review their approach to health and wellbeing support


Are employers providing the right benefits going forward? It is crucial help is offered to employers so they can shift quickly to offer the correct benefits to maintain employee health and wellbeing.

We know the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic is having a major impact on how and where we work. Are benefits available to home workers as well as those based at work? For many people, it has been a time of financial stress, personal loss and mental health impacts as redundancy and restructuring occurs. Are benefits being offered to manage finances? Is there specific support for bereavement issues? It is not all doom and gloom though, as surveys are seeing a positive shift in the behaviour of managers to their reports that is more authentic and focused on wellbeing.

A review of key issues employees face is a good place to start. Any intervention should be measured and ideally accredited, for example, using the Society of Occupational Medicine’s (SOM) Mental Health at Work standards.

There may also be a difference between what a workforce legally needs and what they value, so employers should review their approach in this area. For example, comprehensive occupational health contracts should be put in place: supporting practical issues such as risk assessments, Coronavirus testing, support for return to work for those who have had Coronavirus and home working.

The SOM is running free Public Health England-commissioned webinars and associated resources to support organisations and employees throughout February and March. They provide practical guidance on key issues of concern during these challenging times, for example, promoting workplace health and wellbeing in Coronavirus times and beyond; developing a Coronavirus secure health and wellbeing strategy, and managing change – from restructuring, redundancy to home working.

Nick Pahl is CEO Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM)