After two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, global organisations have seen and adopted new ways of operating and protecting their workforce. One of the main organisational challenges that emerged is associated to Duty of Care provisions and how to best protect employees while complying with the new regulations.
The evolving Duty of Care landscape has shown the need for a new holistic approach and expanded for stakeholders making it more complex than ever before. Our experts highlight the most pertinent changes:
- Responsibility – All functions and roles among organisations have been impacted with the Duty of Care shift, with the need to reinvent their framework in line with the post-pandemic world. Induced by this change, we observe more stakeholders responsible for Duty of Care area including human resources, risk managers, HSE professionals and the C-Suite.
- Population covered – Although Duty of Care was primarily a concern and focus for mobile workers, the pandemic has changed this perception. It is relevant for an entire workforce especially for domestic employees, a new point of focus throughout the pandemic.
- Growing scope – Challenging times from COVID-19 and lockdowns raised new challenges within the Duty of Care umbrella. Historically Duty of Care might have solely focused on employee’s physical health and safety, but now mental health, wellbeing, and safety within the workplace are a critical part of the framework. Addressing physical health risks requires a more preventive and proactive approach (e.g. education on COVID-19 prevention and vaccination becoming a norm as it uses to be every year for seasonal flu)
- Evidence-based approach – the pandemic has shown the importance of following scientific evidence for the best outcomes of Duty of Care implementation. As evidence emerge on the effectiveness of certain interventions, it is crucial not only to translate this evidence into practice, but also to communicate it to the workforce to challenge widespread misinformation.
The pandemic has created a positive spotlight on the role of Duty of Care within global organisations. More than a legal requirement, Duty of Care is a catalyst for value creation, leading to talent attraction and retention.
It is essential that organisations implement an appropriate Duty of Care approach to tackle the post-pandemic reality while supporting their global workforce in remaining healthy, safe and resilient. Key recommendations include:
- Outline the lessons learnt & define your strategy – Reflect and analyse what have been your key challenges during these turbulent times of pandemic. This will help you identify where to concentrate your efforts, defining responsibilities among your organisation for Duty of Care as well as setting up a clear strategy. From assessing your current Duty of Care needs and challenges, to help you build your Duty of Care goals, our consulting practice has this expertise and is available to support your business.
- Know your workforce and their needs – Assessing your workforce’s current health and wellbeing and their associated expectations from the organisation is a fundamental part before implementing appropriate actions. You could start by getting your workforce taking a mental health assessment or by conducting health risk profiling to evaluate your unique vulnerabilities. Our health experts are here to help you build your communication plan and implement health and wellbeing actions for your people.
- Communication is key - Once you have a clearly defined approach to addressing the health and security risks impacting your workforce, communicating proactively will drive awareness and engagement and will help you challenge misinformation. Proactively asking for feedback will allow your programmes to evolve and continually meet the needs of your people.
- Remain informed – As the legal requirements and government regulations constantly and rapidly evolve, remaining informed of the latest best practices is essential. Sharing your experience with your peers can be a good way of learning. Dedicated training with Duty of Care experts is also an efficient way of getting up-to-date information and concrete advice from dedicated experts. The International SOS Foundation offers a range of trainings that can help you remaining aware of the latest trends.
- Remain aware of underlying risks -The pandemic has exacerbated already fragile risk environments. Coupled with the changing legislative and regulatory environment, as well as the need for timely, informed decision making, it is essential that understanding existing health and security risks in operating locations remains a core part of an organisational approach to Duty of Care.
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