The vast majority of employers in the UK are changing their approach to their staff’s health and wellbeing as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, a new study has found.

Employee benefits provider Unum found that 86% have changed their attitude towards it, with 95% saying the pandemic has impacted their need to make people feel more protected, focusing their health and wellbeing strategies on preventative measures, like mental health advice and support.

Nearly three-quarters (72%) of employers believe that their motivation for introducing health and wellbeing measures is based on a need to care for and protect the people they work with. Nearly half (47%) are focusing their efforts on preventative measures, rather than responsive measures. And two-thirds (68%) said investment in health and wellbeing has grown in importance over the past two years.

The survey found that 40% of employers now place more value on workers being fit and well since the start of the pandemic, with 38% saying the outbreak of Covid-19 has prompted them to review their health and wellbeing strategies. Just 4% of those surveyed said they had made no change at all.

The research also suggests that the pandemic has accelerated existing trends in workplace awareness, putting greater emphasis on employee wellbeing and the desire for more flexible and remote working. Four in ten (42%) of employers explained they have implemented new procedures to align with the increase in working from home.

Glenn Thompson, customer solutions director at Unum UK, said:

“Whether it’s from individuals, communities, or businesses, 2020 has brought the value of help and support to the front of all our minds. Employers are being challenged like never before, while employees are likely to need even more help, and our latest research gives a clearer understanding of how both groups value different kinds of support.”