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Zurich offers free mental health education to all UK corporations

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Zurich offers free mental health education to all UK corporations

Insurance giant says work-related stress legal precedent, Hatton v Sutherland, will be tested as working patterns alter

30 April 2021: Zurich Resilience Solutions, part of Zurich Insurance Group has today launched a new digital tool that allows UK corporations to educate, identify and manage the mental health risks associated with their workforce. The Zurich Risk Advisor (ZRA) app is a digital risk assessment tool that will empower companies to understand their mental health exposures and then provide recommendations and insights linked to industry benchmarks.

Zurich is committed to supporting its customers in developing their understanding of the risks associated with the management of employee health and wellbeing which are influenced by a range of factors including the work environment, organisational culture and management and leadership behaviours. The app tests different corporate scenarios through a series of question sets so organisations can identify and be equipped to mitigate and therefore prevent their mental health risks in a variety of scenarios and events.

It is free to download and therefore open to all UK corporations, not just Zurich customers. This investment in the mental health of the UK workforce follows Zurich’s recent offering of five free counselling session for Zurich policy holders who may consider seeking support following a claim.

As the COVID-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on the fragility and dependence businesses have on a healthy and mentally well workforce, organisations are also seeing increasing evidence that investment into health and wellbeing is linked to greater levels of employee resilience, something which can help them remain competitive and helps support their long term business sustainability. HSE figures indicate:

  • over 50% of workplace absence is due to stress-related conditions
  • annual cost to employers of poor mental health is estimated to be in the region of £45 billion, with more than half of this attributed to presenteeism (£27-£29 billion)
  • average cost of mental health absence per employee ranges from £1,475 to £2,277. This is similar across the public and private sectors
  • 12.8 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety
  • an average return of £5 for every £1 spent on mental health intervention.

Legal precedent. Hatton v Sutherland (2002):

The legal precedent on work related stress claims has remained unchanged for nearly twenty years. Hatton v Sutherland (2002) said that employers are not liable for stress-induced illness unless it was reasonably foreseeable, remains the governing authority. However, this should be looked at in context, as the precedent originated from an environment where managers saw employees on a daily basis, and management styles were subsequently more authoritative.

As the last year has shown us, for some industries the traditional 9-5 working day no longer exists, with employees being given more freedom about where and when they perform their role. This has changed the way in which employers and their people communicate and presents a new challenge for management in terms of how they monitor the health and wellbeing of employees.

It is also possible that the increased focus on mental health in the workplace and the pressures brought about by enforced homeworking related to Covid19 will see an increase in the number of claims linked to mental health. Stress affects individuals, their families and colleagues by impacting on their physical and mental health but it also has a negative effect on employers with costs relating to sickness absence, replacement staff, lost productivity and increased accidents.

Andrea Steer, Wellbeing Lead, Zurich Resilience Solutions comments: “The revolutionisation of the modern workplace has been significantly fast-forwarded as a result of the pandemic. Therefore, fear, uncertainty and lack of clarity clouds many people’s outlook when it comes to the future of how they will work. Organisations therefore need to ask themselves, are they managing the obvious risks around remote working as well as they could?

“Increased use of technology has led to a level of human detachment not previously experienced. And new risks such as an ‘always on’ mentality and the concept of ‘leavism’, employees working excess hours to impress their boss, only lead to increased mental health risks.  

“It is imperative that employers continue to develop their own policies to manage the unintended consequences of these risks – as well as develop a healthy work culture by demonstratable leadership behaviours. After all, a collective strong mental health can lead to strong and sustainable companies.

“It is also only a matter of time before the legal precedent Hatton v Sutherland will be challenged by claimants in the context of the ongoing workplace revolution. I predict that the landscape of workplace stress claims will change and develop in the coming years, which may well result in an increase in claims unless employers adapt to the challenges of the modern workplace.’

To learn more about the tool, click here.

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