In a new survey, over 70% of companies’ primary business continuity concern is further disruption from a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. While there is a keen focus on return to work measures, over a fifth (21%) of the respondents still don’t have a pandemic plan and process in place. Furthermore, over 20% expect mental health issues to also pose a major threat in the coming year. The International SOS Return to Work survey, reveals business operations impacts of COVID-19, as well as the key mitigation measures organisations, are prioritising to strengthen. The survey analysed responses from over 1,000 professionals responsible for supporting the health, safety, security, and wellbeing of employees.
Dr Rahul Kalia, Medical Director at International SOS India, commented, “Most organizations currently are trying to balance the employee safety consideration with the economic compulsions of operating businesses. The current pandemic not only compels us to safeguard from the virus but at the same time poses many other health and security challenges for employees and businesses. Having a structured response plan for situations like these (Pandemics) is seen to be an important step in strengthening an organizations resilience. Plans should not only look at the immediate reactive aspect of a pandemic but also provide direction on potential new normal that the working environment is likely to experience. These changes may range from structural ones like temperature screening at access points becoming a norm on one hand to the need for TeleConsultations becoming a significant provision for employees working from the office and from home on the other. Leaders will benefit from timely advice from experts while making these significant future defining changes.”
Are organisations doing enough to return to work safely and combat a second wave?
The survey found that the top two priorities organisations are implementing in their safe return to work are:
- updating business continuity plans (60%)
- on-the-ground support for colleagues (59%).
These are followed by implementation of COVID-19 compliance monitoring tools (56%), health screening (50%) and mental health support (44%).
|Step to be implemented||% of companies planning to implement the step|
|Updating business continuity plans and protocols||60%|
|On-the-ground support for employees||59%|
|COVID-19 compliance monitoring tools||56%|
|Investing in fit-for-work health screening||50%|
|Providing more mental health support||44%|
|Site threat monitoring tools||36%|
|Analytical tools for assessing return to work/ops||35%|
|Investing in TeleHealth services for employees||25%|
|Increased investment in employee healthcare||23%|
Mental Health at-risk
The risk to mental health is considered the fourth biggest threat to business continuity in the next 12 months, with over one-fifth of respondents fearing that this will have an impact. This follows disruption from a potential COVID-19 second wave (73%), country lockdowns (67%) and international border restrictions (57%). The results revealed that over 17% of those surveyed said that mental health issues had already impacted the continuity[i] of their business operations.
Dr Kalia said, “COVID scenario is evolving rapidly in the region and with it, is exacerbating the mental health issues. Working from home, social isolation, anxiety surrounding access to care and fear of the unknown are contributing to the stress faced by the working population. It will be important to address these Mental health issues and providing structured, confidential and timely access to good mental health support will help safeguard the workforce considerably.”