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6 things your employer should have learned from 2020

2020 has been a hard year for employers and employees alike. Employers faced an unknown landscape and did their best to navigate it - often with vague or unclear government guidelines. Employers introduced rules around safe office working, helped us to work from home, while furloughing or laying off others. Some businesses didn’t survive.

Employees endured the stress and anxiety of furlough, remote working, hazardous commutes, home schooling, pay cuts, disruption to routine and potential redundancy. Our research shows that the pandemic made employees focus on their health – mental and physical. We demanded more support from our employers to help with ever-shifting events and their consequences. In many cases employers did their teams proud, providing support for a range of challenges, from staying connected to colleagues, to mental health support.

So, what should employers around the world have learned about how to look after their employees better?

1. We’re worried about catching COVID in an office environment

Employers should have learned that we are worried about catching COVID-19 while working from the office (48% of our respondents). This is an important insight for employers when making decisions about returning teams to the office, strategies for permanently decentralising teams and remote-working practices long-term, and communicating with employees about hygiene, health and safety policies.

2. COVID affects our productivity

70% of respondents in our survey said that being locked down alone had negatively impacted their performance. 66% said the same of being locked down with family/friends. This suggests that COVID-19 is impacting our productivity at work.

Our data also suggests that family health and security, and health support increases productivity — an important insight for any employer who takes their duty of care as seriously as the bottom line.

3. We want more support for our physical health

COVID-19 made many of us feel vulnerable: are we fit enough to fend it off? Are we fit enough to lessen its impact if we do get it?

63% of employees say physical support is more important now than it was, and they want more investment in it (63%). As well as general physical health, 43% of employees are worried about weight gain and 31% are worried about musculoskeletal conditions while working from home.

Is your employer providing a comprehensive health benefits package that delivers the mental health support you and your colleagues need?

Visit our remote-working health resource for advice on staying fit.

4. We want more support for our mental health

Many of us are stressed, depressed or anxious. We know we are, and we know what we want. 33% of employees are worried about their mental health while working from home and 68% say mental health support is more important now than it was before. Has your employer introduced, expanded or improved mental health support to help you through this difficult time?

Listen to our podcast: Mental health in the time of COVID-19

5. We like flexible working

Demands for flexible working (hours and locations) have become louder over the years. Many businesses remained reluctant, afraid that employees will work less effectively or less well, for less time. But the pandemic forced businesses (43% of them in our survey) to set up home-working, as well as flexible working hours for those with children — many of whom needed to home-school.

Employers should know that we like our newfound flexibility — 51% saying flexibility for all could be introduced to attract and retain staff. 65% of businesses said that the pandemic has forced the business to re-think its flexible and remote working policies — suggesting that this is a lesson that employers are learning.

6. Things that make us stay are…

Businesses always want to attract and retain good people. Benefits of various kinds are used to persuade people to join and stay, but our survey shows that the things employees value the most are:

  • positive work culture,
  • flexible working,
  • annual leave entitlement and
  • a comprehensive health benefits package.

See what kinds of products, services and support you can get from a health care benefits package.

What to ask your employer

You may not know whether your employer has ‘learned these lessons’ or you may want to find out! Why not ask your employer or line manager the following questions in your next one-to-one – or even send them a direct email?

  • What are we doing to build a positive work culture?
  • What is our flexible working hours/location policy?
  • What are our health benefits?
    • What support is there for mental health (in the office and at home)? And how do I access it?
    • What support is there for physical health (in the office and at home)? And how do I access it?
    • Do we have an employee assistance programme (EAP)? What does it include and how do I access it?
  • Do we have any digital tools to help me get and staying healthy?

What employers can do?

Maybe you’re an employer who wants to offer more/improved physical and mental health benefits to your employees. There’s a lot to consider and it’s important you make the right choice for your teams. Get in touch and we can discuss your needs and tailor something that’s just right for.

If you’re not quite ready to get in touch, you can find out more from the following articles:


  • 29 wellness program ideas to improve employee health for 2020 and beyond
  • How companies are helping improve their performance by improving their workers’ fitness
  • Corporate health care and wellness trends – 2020 and beyond

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