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Supporting employees through a stressful time

The coronavirus outbreak has left many people feeling anxious, but employers can provide expert help and support through Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs).

Almost half (47%) of UK adults say their mental health has been impacted by the pandemic, according to an Opinium poll of 2,005 adults conducted on 19 and 20 March -- just before the nationwide lockdown was announced by the government.

More than a third (35%) said they were worried about the future, while the same proportion said they were feeling "overwhelmed" by the news.

Sophie Holland, senior research executive at Opinium, said it was important for people to stay as connected and active as possible.

"This could take the form of video calling friends and family, using any outdoor space for some fresh air, and taking advantage of daily outdoor exercise, whilst following the government restrictions," she explained. "Our research has shown that people are trying to keep physically active by going for walks, cycling, gardening, and doing other exercises at home such as digital classes and yoga."

EAPs can also help by providing an outlet for people to discuss issues, fears, emotions and concerns, according to the UK Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA). Fast access to specialist counsellors is available 24/7 and further support can be arranged in the form of counselling sessions -- conducted remotely via telephone or digital tech instead of in face-to-face meetings.

As well as supporting employees' mental wellbeing, EAPs can provide legal and financial information, including help with debt, legislation changes and new benefit rules.

And 2.5 million employees in the UK are covered by group risk schemes that will provide financial support if they're unable to work through illness, while over 9.5 million are covered by schemes that will pay out a lump sum to their dependants if they die while employed.

"Emotional and financial support is needed on an unprecedented scale right now, and it will be group risk benefits that employers will look to to provide it," said Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for group risk industry body GRiD.

"I'm very proud of how our industry steps up to the mark during times of need. Each employer's arrangements will be specific to them, so it's important they understand what's covered within their own schemes, to make sure they're getting all the support available for those dealing with the effects of COVID-19. If they haven't already engaged with their advisers, now is the time."

At Fidelius we can help create an employee benefit programme tailored for your workforce, including financial and emotional support. Contact us today to find out more.

Posted on April 6th 2020

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