Written by Graham Hill, a Customer Experience Specialist at insight6, discussing why business owners should start with the simple question, ‘how are you?’

The reopening of non-essential retail, leisure and hospitality on 12th April has again raised questions about employees safety – and coincidentally occurs during National Stress Awareness Month.

Employers are now facing the huge responsibility of not only looking after the physical safety of their staff, but also their mental wellbeing and the anxieties that a return to work may bring. This can be a hugely daunting prospect, especially for small to medium sized businesses.

A recent study of 2000 British adults on stress, concluded that 65% of people in the UK have felt more stressed since COVID-19. More concerning is the fact only 23% of employees have felt “very well supported” during the pandemic according to Achievers.com.

So while extra sanitizer, screens and social distancing measures are being put in place, some companies have taken a step further and asked their employees, anonymously, ‘how safe do you feel returning to work?’ using the new ‘Team Safety Checker’ app.

insight6 developed the ‘Team Safety Checker’ in response to the pandemic as a quick and easy, instant feedback solution that is accessible to all levels of businesses.

Working with over 60 different businesses, more than 9,000 employees were surveyed anonymously during the 2020 lockdown and easing period to assess if teams felt safe at the prospect of returning to work and then within their workplace.

When initially surveyed, 15% of respondents admitted they felt unsafe returning to work, however, the number of people who felt unsafe when asked the following week reduced by 80%. The businesses who used the tool were able to understand where and why their team didn’t feel safe in order to make positive changes.

Graham Hill from insight6 discussed:  “How people are feeling about returning to work, be it in a busy office or shop is just as important as the measures we put in place to protect them. Often as employers, we assume we know the answers to many basic questions about our staff, workplace, or customers. But, you can’t know the answer until you ask the question, and that can sometimes lead to some surprising results.

“Now is the ideal time for employers to take a moment and ask important questions. How are you? Do you feel safe within your work environment? Could we do anything extra to help? And it’s important for employees to be able to answer anonymously.

“Sometimes, just the act of formally asking a question demonstrates an interest and desire to help, which can be hugely reassuring for employees or customers – making them feel confident in and supported by your business.”

Of the 85% of employees surveyed via the Team Safety Checker that felt safe returning to work, the recurring theme was that, ‘clear communication received from the employer had reassured them that their safety was being put first’.

Employees also highlighted how they were ‘delighted to have been asked how they felt’ and how reassuring it was to have an opportunity to give feedback.

Of those who reported not feeling safe (15%), the reasons given were largely the result of a lack of, or poor communications from the employer – these included ‘feeling in the dark around what safety measures were being put in place’ and ‘if they were going to be working within government guidelines’.

The Team Safety Checker was also used to assess how motivated employees were to come back to work after furlough, or, return to an office environment if they had been working from home.

By Lisa Baker, Senior Editor

Senior Editor Lisa Baker is the owner of Need to See it Publishing Group, providing contract news for business and news sites across the UK. Lisa is an experienced HR writer and commentator, editing HR publications for more than 5 years.

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