By: 21 August 2020
Aviva: 49% of workers are positive about returning to place of work

Half of employed British adults feel positive about the prospect of returning to their place of work after lockdown, according to an Aviva study.

Aviva’s survey of more than 2,000 employed adults also found that 61% of those returning to work believe their employer will make the work environment safe to return to.

But in a clear warning to businesses that don’t put safety first, the survey found that 35% of employees returning to work don’t trust their employer to make the workplace safe and may not return to work for their employer.

For workers who feel neutral or negative about returning to work, infection remains workers’ top concern as they come back to their place of work.

Whether from colleagues (44%) or customers (33%), employees are most concerned about virus transmission in the workplace, which underscores the need for employers to embrace clear prevention strategies to protect their people and the public.

Chris Andrews, head of risk management solutions at Aviva, commented: “As Britain gets back to business after lockdown, employees want to know that their employers have taken all the necessary steps, and what those steps are. That means not just taking action but engaging with employees on their concerns and clearly communicating what is in place and addressing anything that remains unresolved.

“Risk management and prevention strategies, once perceived as red tape, are now essential for businesses in order to keep their people and their customers safe as they open their doors again. Whether devising safe working conditions in a factory, or ensuring orderly social distance in a retail setting, businesses need to consider how they will minimise the risk of infection for their employees and their customers.”

Respondents to Aviva’s survey were asked about their attitude towards returning to work. Of the more than 2,000 respondents, 42% spent lockdown working from home, 26% continued to work in their usual place of business, 21% were furloughed and 6% continued to work in different locations in a key trade. A further 5% were not working and not on furlough.

Of the workers that continued to work in their usual place of business, or continued to work at different locations, 80% said that their employer had taken some steps to improve their safety, and the safety of customers entering the premises.

The top three changes implemented by businesses were easy access to hand-washing and hand sanitiser (65%), reducing the number of employees and/or customers allowed in the workplace, (50%) and sign-posting traffic flow through the premises to support social distancing (42%).

These results indicate that many businesses still have a long way to go to fully comply with the government’s five point plan for safely returning to work and being Covid-Secure, according to Aviva.

Andrews said: “It’s good to see from our survey that most employees say their employer has brought in some of these measures. But it is equally clear that not enough businesses are following all five basic points of the government’s guidance for employers. The risk of not adopting the government’s measures is the spread of the virus, a return to lockdown either locally or nationally and long-term impacts to UK PLC. We must not let that happen.”

“Many businesses may have very specific operational requirements, and expert advice may be the best course of action for them. We encourage businesses to seek expert risk management advice as they emerge from lockdown to ensure they are taking the necessary steps to protect people. Not only will this build confidence amongst employees and customers, but it will equally minimise the risk of infection and related claims for liability.”