Throughout the pandemic we have supported many industries trying to navigate business-as-usual alongside managing the potential risk of coronavirus in the workplace.
Identifying covid-positive individuals as well as outbreaks is essential, but it is also important not to underestimate the peace of mind testing brings to employees who may be anxious about catching covid-19 in the work environment, especially those who have been in close contact with someone at work who has subsequently tested positive.
The creative arts industry has been particularly impacted by closures, and given the close-contact nature of the theatre and performing arts sector, outbreaks do occur. The speed at which those infected can be identified can make all the difference between a show going ahead or being cancelled.
We have supported Kenny Wax Productions for the last 2 years with crisis management and routine testing using our ultra-rapid covid-19 rt-PCR testing service.
Here’s how we supported the production of MAGIC GOES WRONG during their Christmas crisis:
At 15:18 on New Year’s Day (a Saturday), we received a text to say that the entire cast of MAGIC GOES WRONG was heading straight to Fleet Street, following a positive result from one of their actresses. The only way the evening performance could go ahead was to determine whether covid-19 had spread throughout their cast, or not.
We understood the urgency of this situation and quickly and calmly took samples from a cast of 21 against the clock. We ran them through our lab at the same time, which can be quite a challenge. Since we knew that there would not be enough time to re-run samples, this needed to be done with special care. For us to be able to give Kenny the “thumbs up” to go ahead with the evening show, it was imperative we got things right the first time.
One of the best things about our NeuMoDx lab equipment is that we can load each sample as soon as it is taken, rather than waiting for the complete batch. We started running samples immediately, the last of them had finished running by 18:10, when we were able to assure Kenny that it was safe for the cast to go on with the show.
We were able to go from initial text enquiry to sample-taking and final, confirmed results for the entire cast in just over 3 hours.
Kenny Wax, the Producer of MAGIC GOES WRONG explains:
“Our West End hit MAGIC GOES WRONG had managed to avoid shutdown. However, an actress who had been feeling a little unwell leading up to New Year and continuously tested negative on lateral flows, finally came through with a positive test on Saturday morning 31st December. Hearing this news, the rest of the cast became very anxious about continuing performances until they were confident that covid had not spread throughout the company.
As Producer of the show, I was made aware of this information at 1.45pm. There was due to be a matinee at 2.30pm and an evening show at 7:30pm. We had no other option than to cancel the matinee but in an attempt to save the evening performance (a Saturday Night), at very short notice we attempted to get the whole company of 21 people PCR tested in the afternoon. To achieve almost the impossible everyone set off for the Fleet Street Clinic and by 6.10pm, we received the good news that the rest of the company had tested negative on the PCR and we were able to continue with the evening performance and the following two
shows on the Sunday. This not only saved us another financial blow due to cancellations at the box office, but we were able to provide entertainment to 1,500 customers across those three performances.
Dr Dawood’s staff at the Fleet Street Clinic are always polite, friendly and efficient. They fully understood the nuances of working with a West End theatre production company on a very tight deadline. I am very grateful for their continuing support and cannot recommend them highly enough.”
With over 9 million employees put on the furlough scheme at the peak of the pandemic, and many still on the scheme 12 months later, it’s no wonder that there’s an increase in anxiety about returning back to the workplace.
With some employees seeming less than enthusiastic about returning to the workplace, it may be concerning for an employer about how they address this anxiety and what to do if faced with this situation.
From the many Occupational Health consultations we’ve had this past year, we’ve learnt first-hand and also through our clients about the transition back into the workplace for both employees and employers. We’ve been able to get a good picture of the main issues people have been facing and what the underlying cause for the anxiety can be.
As with any anxiety, the cause can be a singular concern or a combination of concerns and when investigating further, each person should be treated as an individual to fully understand their concerns.
A discussion with an empathetic leader is a great place to start. Sometimes, however, a review by an independent occupational health clinician from a SEQOHS-accredited clinic, like Fleet Street Clinic, is required to work out if the employee is fit to continue working, if any adaptations for working are suggested and some circumstances, what medical help is required.
Here are some of the main concerns and issues that have come up time and time again from both employee and employer and how these can be mitigated:
Lack of confidence:
Many furloughed returnees may come back wondering if they can still do their job as well as before, which can manifest into a lack of confidence. With not being at work for a long period of time, certain skill sets may have started to feel ‘rusty’. Worries and concerns about returning to full-time hours from the get go, and having to perform at the same level they were at before they went on furlough are just some examples.
What can help with this?
Early engagement between the employer and the returning employee is important to discuss any specific anxieties and to work out a ‘return plan’ which can really make a difference. ACAS advises employers to think about those returning from furlough as if they have been on maternity or long term sick leave. Using similar ‘check ins’ (as you would for maternity/ sick leave) prior to their return to work allows for real-time conversations to cover the practicalities, potentially a staggered return to build up confidence, as well as an opportunity to discuss any anxieties and concerns.
Concerns over workplace safety:
Two of the most common themes found in consultations with Fleet Street’s Occupational Health Department were employees worried about safety, and whether going back into the office ‘would be the same’.
What can help with this?
To help reduce such anxiety, employers have been encouraged to share with those returning their ‘Covid compliant workplace risk assessments’. HSE made these mandatory last year, although officially they do not have to publish their results internally unless there are over 50 employees. Sharing such information on an individual basis would allow the furloughed employee to see what changes and controls have been put in place, giving them reassurance and peace of mind. It also demonstrates to them that the employer is prioritising their health and safety.
Employers should also consider setting up a ‘virtual tour’ of the amended workplace, to enable those returning to see and understand what their new workplace will look like. Changes such as one-way pathways around the building, socially distanced workstations, extra cleaning of communal areas and bathrooms are just some of the more visual changes. Employers should also take the time to discuss changes in policies such as obligatory wearing of masks, flexible office/home working (if feasible) and other benefits that may have been introduced. Logistical concerns about childcare is one of the major blockers for those returning, and this is another example of how the employer can have open discussion with the returnee to formulate a reasonable solution, preferably weeks ahead of the return to work date.
Concerns over leaving the home:
Returning employees may have concerns about leaving the home and what impact this may have on their health. Other factors employers had to think about were those who were shielding (classified as extremely vulnerable by the Government) and for those living in a household with someone shielding.
What can help with this?
To mitigate this, employers may have chosen to use Occupational Health to contact the employees returning to identify any risk factors or health concerns. Although any medical information would be classified as strictly confidential, the employee and Occupational Health professional discuss the outcome of the assessment which is then simply fed back to HR as ‘fit to return into the office workplace with no adjustments, or with adjustments (then outlined). In the rare circumstance of an employee being assessed as not fit to return to work, a management referral would be indicated. Fleet Street Occupational Health did this for various businesses, and found that many of the employees contacted were appreciative of having been asked about their health in relation to Covid. In a small number of cases, simple and feasible adjustments were recommended – mostly around avoiding a busy commute (flexible working hours were recommended in this instance). Employers fed back confirming the transition for those returning were certainly smoothened by this process.
Mental health may have been affected for all employees for many different reasons, these include bereavement, stress from being at home with home schooling, fear of uncertainty etc. It is important that employers recognise this decline in mental health and look to support their employers.
What can help with this?
Employers should consider making sure that all employees are aware of what counselling services are available, or to train up ‘mental health first aiders’ to carry out weekly group check ins or a ‘return to work’ support group. If the employer would like independent advice from an Occupational Health clinician about where the employee is fit to work, then you may want to consider a management referral. They are primarily designed to support the referring manager in their decision making when dealing with an employee’s health-related issue and to determine the employee’s ongoing fitness to work, this includes mental health concerns.
How can the employer support the return back to the office in general?
Employers might consider a ‘phased return to work’ plan, to allow the furloughed employee to steadily get back into work. Both the employer and the employee want the same thing – to be at their best at work, and so allowing a gradual step up in days and hours (again as if returning from long term sick leave as an example) would be one way of enabling this.
Another thing that might help smoothen the transition back for those returning is a ‘buddy’ system. This is where a returnee is matched up with an employee who has not been on furlough to have them work together for the first few weeks. Not only would this help the returnee to navigate any new changes in the workplace, but it can enable collaborative working and remove the ‘grass is greener’ syndrome from both sides. Some examples of known sentiments include furloughed employees wondering if they’ll have a job to go back to, what it will be like, and a vulnerability about losing their skills etc. Those who remained at work may feel that those on furlough had the ‘easier option’ or feel resentment at not having been given the same option to go on furlough. These are just two sentiments raised from employees during our conducted Occupational Health consultations.
Our list of examples and scenarios outlined are not exhaustive; and we understand that as people we all have specific needs which may be different to others.
We hope that you found the suggestions we have outlined useful, especially in ensuring a smooth transition for those returning, and ultimately an emphatic and supportive working environment for all.
If you require support from our Occupational Health department, you can find more information here.
Or to make an enquiry, please email us at email@example.com.
Have you thought about Corporate Flu Vaccinations?
The winter season can be problematic for businesses, as employees take time off due to sickness and annual leave. Illnesses such as flu are most likely to affect employees during the autumn and winter months.
If you are in charge of organising your company healthcare and wellbeing programmes, you may be unsure about whether to offer flu vaccines. The fact is, workplace flu vaccination can offer a significant return on investment in terms of reduced absenteeism and increased efficiency in the office, meaning there is one less thing to worry about.
We respond to some common questions about corporate flu programmes here:
WHAT TIME OF YEAR SHOULD I ORGANISE MY COMPANY’S corporate FLU VACCINATIONS?
Plan ahead and book the session as early as you feel able. This will ensure you’ll get the dates you want to suit your companies needs.
For best protection, the optimal timing for vaccination is between September and early December, before flu viruses begin to circulate. Each year, October and November prove a popular choice but we can vaccine up until February 2021.
WHY SHOULD I PROVIDE CORPORATE FLU VACCINATIONS FOR MY STAFF?
A flu outbreak in the workplace can cause an increase in absenteeism, which can result in a loss of productivity as well as increasing the workload of any staff that do not succumb to infection. For large and small organisations alike, this can have a massive impact on productivity and revenue. Furthermore, this year in particular, flu symptoms are extremely hard to distinguish between Covid-19. Getting the flu jab has become even more important than in previous years to eliminate potential confusion.
Workplace vaccinations are a great way of promoting health and wellbeing among your employees and demonstrating a caring ethos.
Benefits of the Flu Vaccine include:
- Flu vaccinations improve the wellbeing of your employees, promoting job satisfaction and a positive work atmosphere.
- Flu vaccinations reduce absenteeism.
- The greater the number of people who are vaccinated, the less potential there is for flu to spread through your workplace, among staff members families, and within the local community.
- Annual seasonal flu vaccination is the best way to reduce the chances of becoming ill with the flu.
HOW MANY PEOPLE TAKE UP THE FLU VACCINATION?
Workplace flu vaccination uptake can vary. Internal promotion and communication can make a big impact on likely numbers; motivation to avoid illness, and perception of current risk are also key factors. A good general guide, based on past years indicated an uptake of between 25%-45%. Due to more awareness of viral infections due to Covid-19, we anticipate this uptake to be higher this year and that given the option, most staff would probably choose to be vaccinated.
How Much Money Can You Save Your Company with a Flu Vaccine Programme?
Calculate the likely savings your company can make from a successful flu programme by visiting our corporate flu calculator here.
Fleet Street Clinic offers workplace flu vaccination programmes both on-site across the UK, and at our drop-in clinic in central London, via our flu vaccination programme, FluJabs.Org.
Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a Mental Health problem.
Unfortunately, how we cope with mental health problems, in general, seems to be getting worse.
Leading to an increased number of self-harm and suicide victims. Spotting early warning signs in the workplace and helping those who may be experiencing workplace problems is an extremely important part in reducing the number of deaths by mental ill health each year.
Stress, anxiety and depression are the biggest cause of sickness absence in our society. At Fleet Street Clinic, we believe in creating safe, healthy workplaces where mental health and physical health of employees are valued equally. Therefore, we believe that investing in mental health first aid training, much like physical first aid training should be part of everyone’s corporate wellbeing strategy.
The Fleet Street Clinic will be running a two-day Mental Health First Aid course delivered by Leigh Mckay. This course is designed for all employees, line managers, HR professionals, OH workers and senior leaders alike who wish to become a qualified mental health first aider. By training your staff you’ll be joining a global movement of over 3 million trained Mental Health First Aiders across 25 countries.
Leigh is a quality assured MHFA instructor accredited by the Royal Society of Public Health. She has a particular interest in psychology and emotional resilience. Leigh has a wealth of experience in delivering the MHFA courses in corporate companies. Plus, she advocates that a workplace and community that promotes wellbeing can have a positive impact on everyone’s physical, mental and emotional health.
What is Mental Health First Aid?
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an Internationally-recognised training course. It teaches people how to spot the signs and symptoms of mental ill health. MHFA won’t teach you to be a therapist, however, just like physical first aid training, it will teach you to listen, reassure and respond, even in a crisis.
A quality assured instructor will deliver the adult MHFA courses, which are for everyone aged 16 upwards. All instructors attend an Instructor Training programme accredited by the Royal Society for Public Health. Therefore, they are specifically trained to keep people safe and supported whilst they study this course.
What will I learn?
Learning will take place through a mix of group activities, presentations and discussions. Throughout the course, you will gain practical skills and awareness about mental health.
- A deeper understanding of mental health and the factors that can affect people’s wellbeing, including your own
- Practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of mental health issues
- Confidence to step in, reassure and support a person in distress
- Enhanced interpersonal skills such as non-judgemental listening
- Knowledge to help someone recover their health by guiding them to appropriate support
How will attending an MHFA course help?
There are many benefits to taking part in an MHFA course. Firstly, research and evaluation have shown this course raises awareness of mental health literacy. The more understanding and knowledge about mental disorders lead to better recognition, management and prevention. Secondly, this reduces the stigma attached to ill mental health, especially in the workplace. Further, this course champions its students to increase their confidence in handling mental health issues. But, most importantly, it promotes early intervention. Above all, becoming a Mental Health First Aider can enable the recovery of a sufferer and even save lives.
Date: Thursday 26th & Friday 27th September, 2019
Location: 29 Fleet Street, London, EC4Y 1AA
Cost: £350 per person
Spaces are limited.
To book yourself and/or a colleague on to the Mental Health First Aid course, please email to our Corporate Manager, Caroline McKenzie here.
Are you considering setting up a corporate health programme for your company?
The benefits of introducing a workplace health and wellbeing programme are clear: it has been proven that a successful corporate wellbeing programme leads to higher productivity, decreases in absenteeism and lower staff turnover. Ultimately, if your employees feeling healthy and looked after at work, it allows them to reach their potential and helps your company to achieve its business goals.
Perhaps as a result of the growing evidence in favour of such initiatives, businesses are now investing more than ever into corporate wellness programmes.
But with so many options available, how do you begin to create your own bespoke workplace programme? Firstly, be prepared to set aside time and budget. At the initial planning stage, there are several important factors to consider: how to structure the programme to your company’s ethos and business objectives, how to ensure staff involvement (at all levels), considering the size of your workplace, personalisation according to the needs of your company and the requirements of individual employees.
Fleet Street Clinic Corporate Wellbeing Programmes
At Fleet Street Clinic, we create bespoke corporate programmes across the UK. We work with companies of all sizes – from local businesses to City firms to international media agencies. We have a wealth of medical experts available, from hypnotherapists, osteopaths, dieticians, and can offer all kinds of services on site such as flu jabs, health screens and GP services.
We deliver programmes designed to boost the health and happiness of your staff, building and strengthening your workforce.
Want to find out more? You can visit our Corporate Healthcare Services page and make an enquiry. One of our Corporate Managers will be in touch soon.
Everyone feels stressed from time to time. In small doses, stress can actually be quite useful; motivating us to achieve our goals. But for some, stress is chronic. Meaning it is debilitating and negatively impacts their mood, their health and wellbeing, their relationships and their work.
Experiencing a lot of stress over a long period of time can also lead to a feeling of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion, often called burnout. It is, therefore, easy to see why reducing stress across all areas of your life would be important. Stress management tips are a good place to start.
Learning how to manage your stress takes practice and time.
Here are our top 10 ways on managing and reducing stress.
10 TIPS TO REDUCE STRESS:
Prioritise your health
– make decisions which will benefit your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. For example, go alcohol-free a few nights each week or allow yourself time for a hobby you enjoy. These small steps for a healthier lifestyle will help in reducing stress levels.
Get a good night’s sleep (regularly)
– research clearly shows that sleep deprivation amplifies the symptoms associated with stress. Aim for between 7-9 hours of good quality sleep every night.
Practice deep breathing
– when our bodies are stressed, the muscles that help us breathe tighten. By focussing on taking several deep breaths we can quickly and effectively relieve physical symptoms associated with feeling stressed or anxious. Try to do this regularly throughout the day.
Drink enough water
– being dehydrated (however mild) causes our cortisol levels to rise, which automatically makes us feel stressed. Your body is already dehydrated if you’re feeling thirsty. So try to avoid reaching this point by hydrating yourself regularly. Aim for 2-3 litres per day, more in hot weather or when exercising.
Eat a balanced diet
– dieticians stress how certain foods have stress-relieving properties. For example, dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, whilst avocados and oily fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids (both of which are proven to help lower anxiety levels).
– physical activity causes our brains to release mood-improving chemicals called endorphins. These help us to cope with potentially challenging situations. Both Public Health England and the World Health Organisation recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more. Choose activities you enjoy to achieve maximum benefit for the mind as well as the body.
Adopt a positive mindset
– research suggests that making a conscious effort to think positively can help protect us against a whole host of physical and mental issues, including stress.
Manage your time and tasks effectively
– by giving ourselves enough time in which to complete a given task, and by making sure that we don’t try and accomplish too many stressful things at once, we can reduce the likelihood of feeling overwhelmed.
Spend less time online
– many studies have found a strong positive correlation between internet usage and stress levels. Spending less time on our computers and phones is a simple way to practice self-care. Having screen-free time for at least an hour before bedtime has also been shown to improve sleep.
Learn to say no
– in a culture that demands we take on more and more responsibilities, having the confidence to say “no” will only become more important. This final tip takes us back to the start, by reiterating the importance of prioritising our health above unrealistic social pressures, and brings us onto developing an essential tool – resilience.
If you are interested in how Fleet Street Clinic can assist your workplace with stress management and resilience training, get in touch.
Or if you are an individual who needs help managing stress, you can book a GP appointment online. Our doctors will be able to talk through your thoughts, symptoms and emotions and set you on the right path to diagnosis. They will also be able to recommend relevant support services for stress, if appropriate.
Mental Health Awareness Week: What Is Stress?
Look around your office, do you know if anyone is struggling?
You may think those around you – fellow colleagues or your staff – are completely fine. But mental health affects us all and problems in the workplace are actually very common.
According to mental health charity Mind, at least one in six workers are experiencing common mental health problems, including anxiety and depression.
Nowadays, there is increasing recognition of stress and mental health problems, both within the workplace and in everyday life. Currently, following Stress Awareness Month in April, we are approaching Mental Health Awareness Week, which takes place from 13-19th May.
We thought it might be helpful to focus on some positive strategies to help, in terms of stress management and resilience. Whilst being particularly useful and relevant within the workplace, these can all be used in everyday life as well.
WHAT IS STRESS?
In its purest form, stress is the body’s reaction to something it perceives as dangerous or threatening. When we feel under attack, our bodies respond by producing a mixture of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These prepare us for physical action by diverting blood away from our core and into our limbs. It also temporarily shuts down some less vital bodily functions such as digestion.
For immediate, short-term situations, stress can be beneficial to your health, by helping you cope with potentially serious situations.
Yet if your stress response continues, and stress levels stay elevated far longer than necessary, it can take a toll on your health.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO TACKLE STRESS?
Chronic stress can cause a variety of symptoms, contribute to many health problems (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes, anxiety and depression) and affect your overall well-being.
Reducing stress can help prevent these harmful effects on both mind and body.
Looking after yourself and ensuring you have good mental health has many benefits – not just for you as an individual, but for the business too. Employees are generally more productive, passionate and motivated when in good health. Even if they’re experiencing mental health problems, knowing they are supported by their employer can help in the recovery process.
STRESS PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN STRESS MANAGEMENT
Ultimately, the best way to manage stress is through prevention rather than cure.
Research shows that those who are better informed about the practical ways in which they can lower their stress levels are far better able to tackle difficult situations with emotional resilience and determination.
Within the workplace, employers are encouraged to make promoting the wellbeing of their employees a core element of the company’s internal operations. Some examples of a proactive approach to stress-management might be:
- To invite people to take active breaks away from their desks
- Offering lunchtime yoga classes or mindfulness sessions
- Group walks in the fresh air.
So what can help you reduce stress? Continue reading our stress, with Our Top Tips For Reducing Stress.
If you are interested in how Fleet Street Clinic can assist your workplace with stress management and resilience training, get in touch. Or if you are an individual who needs help with stress management, you can book a GP appointment online.