With countries across the world still under lockdown due to covid-19, new research commissioned by Aetna International, published today, shows a majority of businesses in UK, USA, UAE and Singapore had prepared and reacted to the growing threat pre-lockdown.
Aetna International's research, conducted between 4 and 27 March, showed that 83% of businesses had already taken some form of action to support employees.
According to the research, by 11 March almost a third (31%) of businesses had already given employees the option to work remotely, and 44% had issued health tips to employees.
Despite the economic challenges facing many businesses, it is testament to the resolve of business leaders that they reacted so quickly to support their employees’ health and well-being."
When the World Health Organisation (WHO) officially declared covid-19 a pandemic on 11 March, this date was two to three weeks before local lockdown policies were put in place in the markets the research covered.
The research among office workers in the four markets was part of Aetna International's ongoing insights programme into issues affecting businesses, including the provision of mental and physical health support.
According to the findings, larger businesses (those with 5,000 employees or more) were perhaps understandably quicker to respond to the global issue; 44% issued guidance on how they were dealing with the risk prior to the WHO announcement, and 48% had already sent out health tips and advice on how to self-quarantine.
In the UK, before the government's advice to work from home on 16 March, over a third (36%) of businesses had already offered this to employees, whilst over half (56%) had issued health tips to minimise risk and advice for self-quarantine.
A quarter of UK businesses had already banned all travel and 50% had issued a policy on how they were dealing with it, according to employees.
Richard di Benedetto, president at Aetna International, said: "The spread of covid-19 across the globe has been rapid, and its impact on all our lives - both personally and professionally - has been significant. Despite the economic challenges facing many businesses, it is testament to the resolve of business leaders that they reacted so quickly to support their employees' health and well-being.
"Whether through simple messages and tips, or bringing in remote working early, clearly they were doing what they could in unbelievably challenging times. As this complex situation continues to evolve, we will continue to assess how companies are adapting during this period of uncertainty, to ensure we are doing all we can to help them safeguard the mental and physical health and well-being of their employees."