30 June 2020
The COVID-19 climate can undoubtably be described as a roller coaster and as we celebrated the arrival of level one restrictions, businesses gladly reopened their doors and welcomed back their customers and clientele with open arms. However, with this came a new set of challenges that businesses are now dealing with as they “get back to normal”.
News headlines have recently reported a multitude of stories of businesses closing, downsizing or letting staff go. While these reports sadly may continue to emerge, we are also seeing a number of businesses overloaded with a backlog of work to catch up on and facing additional issues that need to be carefully managed.
Some examples include retailers struggling to complete orders, mechanics working seven days a week and hairdressers working 12 hour days. In some instances, large additional workloads are placed on employees where businesses can’t afford or have made redundant the staff they need.
It may be tempting to increase workers’ hours to catch up on the backlog, however if your business is struggling to get on top of heavy workloads, it is important to consider how best to manage it. How is it putting pressure on your valuable employees? What are the potential risks this creates for your business?
Working excessive hours and not allowing time for adequate rest and meal breaks presents several health and safety risks including:
- Physical injuries such as back issues and overuse strains.
- Stress, resulting in poor wellbeing and mental health.
These can be exacerbated by out-of-work stressors that may have been heightened in this new post-COVID climate, whether it’s additional financial strains or changes on the home front.
If your workers are affected by any of these issues, they may not be functioning to their full capability and the likelihood of incidents and injuries (particularly for those operating in high risk industries) increases.
Stress related complaints and stress leave claims are on the rise. A recent survey by Frog Recruitment found the changes in the work environment brought about by COVID-19 have led to an increase in burnout amongst Kiwi employees with more than 64% feeling more burnt out at work now than they did prior to the onset of lockdown.
Many employees are feeling pressured to work outside of their means, working longer hours to show their worth and feel their concerns are not being taken seriously with the implication they “should be grateful to have a job” in these times.
Businesses may be operating in an exceptional set of circumstances, but this does not make them exempt from their employment and health and safety obligations. Businesses must not only ensure they are honouring the terms of their employment agreements, but also provide a safe working environment free from unnecessary risks. This will help to avoid time consuming and potentially expensive incident, accident and complaint investigations, higher sick or stress leave claims, time off for work-related injuries and higher staff turnover, all of which have a significant impact on the bottom line and reputation of your business.
If your business is struggling with any of the issues in this article or you would like further advice, our HR Consulting Team can provide support with workforce planning, health and safety support, complaint investigations, and advice on making changes to employee terms and conditions. Please get in contact with your adviser or get in touch with the HR Consulting Team for a confidential discussion.
Findex has developed a Government Stimulus Health Check and free Business Wellbeing Toolkit to help businesses manage potential risks and take full advantage of eligible stimulus assistance. Book your Health Check here.
Findex NZ Limited, trading as Findex
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