Cutting meeting and screen times, reminding staff of the importance of taking time out and introducing preventative measures guarding against burnout are just some of the ways insurers have been seeking to improve staff wellbeing in lockdown.
Research published early this week drew a link between working excessive hours and increased chances of having a stroke or developing heart disease, while a separate survey showed financial services workers were among those saying they worked too hard.
Health & Protection asked insurers how they monitored their staff’s working hours in lockdown.
A spokesperson for Canada Life said it had developed a suite of support and practical measures to ensure employee wellbeing, including helping to manage time and long hours.
This has included encouraging regular employee wellbeing check-ins with managers, the launch of a new hub for colleagues which includes a focus on wellness and practical tips for time management.
It also opened its WeCare virtual support service to all staff, which includes GP appointments, mental health support and burnout prevention.
But the spokesperson added that staff were encouraged to shorten meeting times, reduce screen time, and the insurer has introduced the idea of meeting-free periods throughout the working day.
Canada Life also runs regular well-being sessions across the company, including promoting its team of mental health first aiders and has issues regular anonymous wellbeing surveys to spot any emerging issues.
Importance of taking time out
Zurich head of market engagement in the UK Peter Hamilton told Health & Protection that it regularly reminds staff of the importance of taking time out and supported them through the provision of wellbeing support.
This includes seminars around work-life balance, apps to encourage good health habits, a Wellbeing Hub, paused payments on some benefits that could not be used during lockdown such as gym membership and car parking and the launch of virtual drop-in sessions to support teams.
The insurer has also embraced flexible working patterns and given every employee free access to the Calm app which aims to introduce staff to mindfulness.
Focus on preventative care
Finally, Amy Tomlinson, head of HR at MetLife UK, told Health & Protection the insurer focuses on preventative care for employees, taking steps to identify any possible signs of burnout or increased stress levels early on so it can work with individuals to best support them and to find a solution.
“The transition to working from home was a big adjustment for us as a 250-strong team but we have worked closely with our managers to increase communication between teams and establish clear lines of communication across the business,” she said.
“By doing this, employees should feel that they can go to their manager or utilise available resources if they are feeling concerned about their wellbeing. In addition, we monitor absence and sickness levels too to help identify any trends or potential red flags.
“We also continually monitor feedback from our associates through sentiment surveys, virtual town halls and focus groups along with market insight available from our benefit providers to ensure we offer our staff the most suitable benefits based on their individual needs.”
An Own your Wellbeing initiative has also been introduced which encourages staff to focus on their mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.
“One way we have supported employees is to offer two paid wellness hours per month to all staff. These can be used by staff to attend an exercise class or meeting friends, to help prioritise their wellbeing.”
And it too has included meeting-free times.
“Every business is different, so there’s not one simple answer as to how other employers can support employees who can’t switch off, but one piece of advice I would give is to listen to your team; let them tell you what they think is and isn’t working for them.
“There might be a series of smaller changes that you can make to help them refocus their time or adjust their workload,” she added.