Second wave of COVID-19 feared as leading threat to business, with mental health also of concern

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 Mark Parrish, Regional Medical Director at International SOS, commented, “We are surprised that, while the great majority of companies are fearing a second wave of COVID-19, there are many who still don’t have a pandemic plan in place.”

 

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%).

 

Dr Parrish continues, “It would seem that there are many who are missing out on protecting their people and their business. We should be mindful that there may be a layering of issues, such as security incidents and concurrent health issues, which all need to be addressed alongside the continuing pandemic and as we return to work and operations. There are ‘low hanging’ initiatives that seem to come further down the priority list but could be major risk mitigation assets. For instance, TeleConsultation helps support employee health in all circumstances, including lockdowns and when physical medical consultations are not advised and not necessary.”

 

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 Parrish, said, “The issue of mental health potentially being a major threat to business resilience has been brought to the forefront by the COVID-19 pandemic. Home working, isolation and the stress of the unknown is taking its toll on many of the workforce. It will be important to address this going forward, extending confidential support to employees whenever and wherever they need it the most.”

 

Employers can access advice on how return to work safely by visiting here.