Throughout 2020, Employee Benefits’ daily email alerts have been filled with stories of employers introducing or enhancing the support they offer for their workforces as life changed significantly as a result of the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. But is this true of all organisations, particularly as many battle for survival amid so much ongoing uncertainty?
Two new research reports published this week suggest support for some employee groups may actually have slipped in some organisations. Research by group risk industry body Grid, for example, found that just under a quarter (23%) of organisations surveyed do not offer any form of emotional or practical support to staff if they are diagnosed with a serious illness, such as heart disease or cancer. While such conditions can be complex, meaning the support required by employees may differ from case to case, the diagnosis of a serious illness may well be a time when individuals look to their employer for support during a difficult period.
Of course, this type of situation is not just one way. Grid’s research also found that the proportion of employees who expected support over and above the provision of statutory sick pay was much lower than the proportion of organisations that actually provided such support initiatives for their workforces.
Uncertainty around job stability and financial concerns, meanwhile, have been a concern for many since the start of the pandemic, particularly in organisations where redundancies, pay cuts and the use of the government’s furlough scheme have been necessary. In the case of the latter group, a survey by security awareness training and simulated phishing platform provider KnowBe4 of 1,000 employees who have been furloughed at some point during the pandemic, found that 70% said they did not feel supported by their employer during their period of furlough, receiving little or no information or guidance from them prior to their return to work and/or they received no communications from them.
Inevitably, this appears to have had a lasting impact on how these employees now view their employer, even after returning to work. A third (33%) reported feeling stress or anxiety on their return, while 28% felt less loyal to their employer as a result. Conversely, among the 33% that claimed to feel happy or excited about returning to work, just under half (49%) also felt they had been supported by their employer while on furlough.
Whatever the reason behind an employee being temporarily away from the organisation, therefore, remaining in communication appears to be crucial in the individual’s future relationship with their employer. So, as we approach the end of the year, is it time to review your organisation’s approach to absent employees? Is communication an ongoing priority until it is time for them to return, or is it a case of out of sight, out of mind?