Employee health has never been so important for employers.
This new impetus on keeping employees healthy comes as people report the mental strains of the pandemic as well as its immediate danger.
As a result of employers’ concerns, more money is going to be invested in employee health in the coming year according to the findings of the International SOS Risk Outlook 2022.
To get insight, the study spoke to 1,000 risk professionals across 75 countries and also leveraged data from Workforce Resilience Council and International SOS proprietary data.
The study also identified the areas in which most businesses are cautious.
What worries businesses?
The five key health concerns identified by those surveyed are COVID-19, mental health issues, natural disasters including extreme weather, transport concerns, and security threats, as well as civil unrest.
To help cover these areas, 56% of those surveyed intend to invest more in mental and physical health support in 2022.
This is unsurprising, given that 68% of organizations anticipate risks to increase or stay the same next year. Those responsible for business travel and assignees were particularly attuned to this risk and reported greater concerns.
Dr Neil Nerwich, group medical director at International SOS, discussed the findings: “In 2022 we are facing a layered threat environment.
“Entering the third year of the pandemic, while COVID-19 and the fallout from lockdowns continue to be major disruptors, other risks are coming back to the fore as travel resumes.
“With many experts predicting 2022 will be the year of the ‘Great Resignation’ organizations must act to ensure they provide the necessary support for employees.
“Investing in both emotional health and physical wellness support will be essential for employee retention.
“This will also help to avoid a vicious cycle of productivity issues. With many governments and healthcare systems under increased strain, proactive organizations can lead the way.
“Those that can best help employees navigate changing working environments, will be rewarded with increased employee resilience, loyalty, and productivity.”
COVID-19 disruption and beyond
COVID-19 has not gone away and the new Omicron variant has made that clear for most people to see.
This is still a health concern for organizations and 33% of respondents said that having adequate resources to deal with the virus was a top challenge for 2022.
36% of respondents in Western Europe also noted that following government policies would be an issue for companies.
More broadly, 21% of respondents predicted that natural disasters including extreme weather would be disruptive in 2022.
19% of people were also worried about transport logistics and 16% were worried about civil unrest.
Mick Sharp, group director of security services at International SOS, said: “In 2022 organizations must be aware that perennial security concerns such as crime, civil unrest, terrorism, or other geopolitical issues have not gone away due to the pandemic.
“In many cases, the risks from these concerns have actually grown. Tensions around pandemic lockdowns, vaccine rollouts, and perceived infringements on civil liberties have fueled civil unrest and violence in some locations.
“With the increased use of vaccine mandates or restrictions on unvaccinated individuals around the world, we can expect to see tensions heighten throughout 2022.
“Aside from the COVID-19 related triggers, natural disasters, geopolitics, domestic conflict, and crime will continue to impact organizations globally. This impact will further increase in 2022 with a growing return to travel and an increased focus on the Duty of Care requirements of an in-country workforce.”
Sharp added: “In response, organizations must identify internal and external crisis management blind spots and act now to make effective decisions and strengthen their resilience.
“They must keep traveling staff, as well as domestic workforces, reliably informed with objective, forward-leaning location-specific health and security information.
“Staying on top of regulatory changes will also be critical, making sure that they have the right processes in place to fulfill Duty of Care obligations.”