Two significant factors have changed the face of employee sickness since 2020 – coronavirus and health system pressures. With poor economic conditions compounding the situation, increasing numbers of workers feel forced into presenteeism, costing businesses severely. According to Business News Daily, this phenomenon is creating a $150 billion loss for US businesses every year, as well as endangering the health of employees. The solution, creating a welcoming environment that truly supports employees, is best achieved by first analyzing the exact employment conditions found in the market today.
Looking at the conditions
This approach – taking a finely detailed look at the circumstances and how they can benefit the employee – is promoted by the Harvard School of Public Health. The exact accommodations that employees require, and the measures needed for them to stay safe, have changed drastically. How resilient are employees? How resilient is the business? Do current insurance, and HR processes have sufficient leeway to provide proper resolutions? The latter aspect is important both for employees and for the company. Consider disability – short term disability in particular. Conditions that fall into this category require a different and specific form of insurance to ensure the business and employees are covered – in contrast to what’s required for worker’s comp. Is the business protected, and, more importantly, do employees know what rights they have and how the business will ensure they cover what they should be covered under by law?
Making the adjustments
Employers of all sizes need to consider reasonable adjustments for disabled employees. This is confirmed by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. With short-term disability, it is likely to assess these adjustments after a period of time to ensure they are appropriate. With the coronavirus and the move to hybrid working, there is a debate over the employer’s responsibility to ensure that home office setting are also suitable. Ideally, an employer should be proactive. You can make adjustments, provide them, and go above and beyond for workers at home; it keeps them at work, protects against liability, and does better for the employee.
Tackling the return
Many businesses now require a return to the office. According to Forbes, over 50% of employees are now working in the office again, whether full-time or on a hybrid basis. This is a prerogative of employers, and it can help to keep a better check on employees to safeguard their well-being. However, it can also exacerbate health and safety concerns. Furthermore, workplace health and safety plans may be outdated or irrelevant to the current day. Take a holistic view of any existing plans and ensure they are fit for purpose before starting the return-to-office process.
Taking these steps will enhance health and safety in the workplace. This will, most importantly, protect employees, but it will protect the employer, too, and revenues associated with settlements and regulatory issues. That’s good news for the health of the business, the health of employees, and the wider system.