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Many employees remain deeply fearful and anxious about the prospect of returning to physical workplaces once Covid-19 restrictions begin to be lifted next week.
A survey of 2,000 people by occupational health provider BHSF found almost half (45%) of those polled felt they were not ready to return to workplaces, describing their feelings about the return to work negatively.
BHSF highlighted that, despite this, just 5% of employers have put in extra employee support services for those returning to more normal work patterns.
More widely, the poll in the report The Big Return found there many employers still felt uncomfortable about raising health concerns or worries with line managers.
Almost a third (30%) confirmed they would not feel comfortable discussing any mental health, physical health, grief or financial concerns with their line manager.
When looking at what workers would feel comfortable disclosing, only 41% said they would discuss mental health concerns with their manager, while even fewer said they would discuss physical health issues (36%), financial concerns (28%) and grief experiences (22%).
Shelley Rowley, chief transformation officer at BHSF, said: “The working world has changed considerably over the last 18 months, and while flexible working policies and home offices are becoming more normalised, the mental health crisis appears to be growing.”
Dr Rohit S Prajapati, BHSF’s chief medical officer, added: “The Covid-19 pandemic needs to be a wake-up call for workplace wellbeing; stark is the reality that 40% of workplace absence is due to mental health issues and this is projected to be in the region of 70% by 2023.
“If we can educate employers about the breadth of support available and about the value, not just the cost, of this provision, then we can better manage th
Nic Paton is editor of Occupational Health & Wellbeing, within OHW+. One of the country's foremost workplace health journalists, Nic has written for Occupational Health & Wellbeing since 2001, and has edited the magazine since 2018.