Health experts have been warning of a second wave of COVID-19 for weeks now, and the probability of that happening has brands and businesses up in arms, according to a new survey from medical & security services firm International SOS. The research reveals that over 70 percent of companies’ primary business continuity concern is further disruption from a second wave of the pandemic.
While there is a keen focus on return to work measures, over a fifth (21 percent) of the respondents still don’t have a pandemic plan and process in place. Furthermore, over 20 percent expect mental health issues to also pose a major threat in the coming year.
The firm’s new Return to Work survey reveals business operations impacts of COVID-19, as well as the key mitigation measures organizations are prioritizing to strengthen. The survey analyzed responses from over 1,000 professionals responsible for supporting thehealth, safety, security, and wellbeing of employees.
“We are surprised that, while the great majority of companies are fearing a second wave of COVID-19, there are many who still don’t have a pandemic plan in place,” said Dr. Mark Parrish, regional medical director at International SOS, in a news release.
Are organizations doing enough to return to work safely and combat a second wave?
The survey found that the top two priorities organizations are implementing in their safe return to work are:
“It would seem that there are many who are missing out on protecting their people and their business. We should be mindful that there may be a layering of issues, such as security incidents and concurrent health issues, which all need to be addressed alongside the continuing pandemic and as we return to work and operations,” Dr. Parrish continued.
“There are ‘low hanging’ initiatives that seem to come further down the priority list but could be major risk mitigation assets,” he said. “For instance, TeleConsultation helps support employee health in all circumstances, including lockdowns and when physical medical consultations are not advised and not necessary.”
Mental health at risk
The risk to mental health is considered the fourth biggest threat to business continuity in the next 12 months, with over one fifth of respondents fearing that this will have an impact. This follows disruption from a potential COVID-19 second wave (73 percent), country lockdowns (67 percent) and international border restrictions (57 percent). The results revealed that over 17 percent of those surveyed said that mental health issues had already impacted the continuity of their business operations.
“The issue of mental health potentially being a major threat to business resilience has been brought to the forefront by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr. Parrish said. “Home working, isolation and the stress of the unknown is taking its toll on many of the workforce. It will be important to address this going forward, extending confidential support to employees whenever and wherever they need it the most.”