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5 ways Unum can help employees return to work in a post-pandemic world

As the government lays its cautious roadmap out of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions and vaccination efforts ramp up, it seems that the end of the pandemic might be in sight. That means both businesses and staff alike will have to plan for the future and the new normal.

No matter what happens over the coming months - returning after working from home, the end of furlough, worries about wellbeing in the new world - we have you covered.

Unum's 5-point offering for employees returning to work after the pandemic includes:

1. Help@hand

With the NHS under continued pressure and waiting lists growing, Help@hand provides employees with fast, easy access to five key support services via one easy-to-use app – wherever and whenever they need them**.

These five services are:

Remote GP

Available to employees and their families*, unlimited appointments with UK GPs available 24/7, speeding up access to essential primary care and removing the need for employees to take time out of work to sit in their local surgery’s waiting room.

Mental health support

To ease the transition back into the workplace for those anxious with making such a shift after so long, employees have access to mental health support (usually via video consultation). This includes sessions to help with anxiety, depression or cognitive difficulties.


Help@hand offers employees access to personalised treatment from qualified physiotherapists to address any musculoskeletal issues that may arise, reducing the burden of one of the top causes of sickness absence.

Desk-based workers who’ve spent much of the past year working from home may have experienced musculoskeletal issues from bad habits or poor ergonomic setup of workstations, which physiotherapy could assist with. It could also help with symptoms related to long COIVD such as muscle fatigue or pain.

Medical second opinion

For employees and their families who have recently been diagnosed with a health condition, they’re able to access a second medical opinion to discuss that diagnosis or potential treatment plan from an UK clinician who’s an expert in their field.

Life, money and wellbeing support

Unum also offers general support in many other areas of employees’ lives as they transition back into the workplace via our employee assistance programme (EAP).

Whether they’re concerned about financial, legal and family issues or want nutritional advice and fitness plans to kickstart a post-lockdown wellness regime, they can get support via the app.

Discover more about Help@hand here.

2. Employee assistance programme

LifeWorks, provided by Morneau Shepell, is Unum’s comprehensive EAP service. It can offer support for any COVID-related topic, including for people experiencing the impact of long COVID and those needing extra help with their recovery.

Find out more about the benefits of LifeWorks here.

The support available includes:

  • 24/7 confidential helpline — assistance with balancing eldercare and childcare as employees return to work, plus help with domestic legal issues etc.
  • COVID-19 toolkit — specific resources and support for people self-isolating, caring for others, having work-related issues, financial signposting and support for line managers
  • New norm toolkit — covering coping with change, burnout, return to school or the workplace and developing and maintaining positive habits
  • LIFT fitness — personalised fitness programmes to assist with reconditioning and increasing physical activity, suitable too for people working from home or those uncomfortable visiting a gym
  • CareNow — interactive self-management programmes for a range of issues, from managing anxiety to relationships and communication
  • Nutrition and sleep — access a range of nutritional and dietary support to ease people back into the workplace and help them develop healthy habits after a long lockdown.

All these support services are available to those with access to LifeWorks — you can log in here.

3. Wellbeing workshops

Sometimes all employees need to know is that their company cares and that everyone is in this together. When you combine this with having all the necessary tools available and also tap into your own resources, you can help make the transition easier.

Our suite of ‘On Course’ workshops will educate staff so they feel more empowered when it comes to change while building resilience to prevent the negative impact of change on both them and the business. These workshops forearm them with useful wellbeing practices, enhancing performance and boosting engagement.

Employee wellbeing training includes Thriving through change: Embracing the unknown, Resilience and Lifestyle management. Check out the full list here.

Our workshops for line managers and HR departments help build confidence in spotting the signs that a staff member may be struggling with their wellbeing and makes resources available to provide effective support.

4. Return to work

As lockdown measures begin to ease, your business will need to consider how you can best support your employees making the transition back into work, whether that’s from furlough or back to the office after working from home for a sustained period.

No matter why employees have been away from the workplace, returning to their daily work routine and potentially getting used to new ways of working post-pandemic may take some time.

For our Income Protection customers, access to our rehabilitation and return to work (RTW) support is available whenever it’s needed.

We provide tailored case management for any employee affected with a health condition, including the effects of long COVID or the associated impact on mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. This includes:

  • An initial needs assessment to identify what support is required
  • Bespoke return to work plans with ongoing case management support when appropriate
  • Access to a wide range of additional services such as remote psychological support and virtual workstation assessments from our specialist partners
  • Help for anyone experiencing symptoms of long COVID, such as:
    • Work-readiness plans
    • Fatigue management and activity-pacing plans
    • Tools and resources to help with cognitive difficulties – such as difficulty focusing
    • Advice on workplace adjustments
    • Personalised support with a dedicated case manager for as long as needed to support a return to work

Find out more our absence and RTW support.

Wellbeing Checks

Change and uncertainty can test all of us and take its toll on our wellbeing in unique ways. That’s why our Wellbeing Check offers access to a personalised 1-to-1 coaching session with our specialist team for bespoke support.

Our health professionals have expertise in a wide range of areas, including occupational therapy, occupational psychology, counselling, physiotherapy and nursing. We can support employees against the impact of COVID-19 both in and out of the workplace, including:

  • Work-related concerns such as workload, dealing with change, working from home or returning to the office, work/life balance and time management
  • Personal concerns such as individual stressors, maintaining self-care and overall wellbeing, resilience and motivation.

Find out more about our Wellbeing Check and how to make a referral.

5. Other key resources for the post-pandemic transition

Tap into our resources at any time to support your employees. Here are just a few of our useful tools to get you started.

Returning to work guide: A complete guide for managers to effectively support employees back into the workplace, including a checklist of things to consider, useful information and relevant resources.

Preparing furloughed employees for a return to work: Long periods without a regular routine may have led to some bad habits or general deconditioning. Before employees transition back to work, encourage them to resume a routine that is like a working day, including sleeping pattens, eating and exercise.

Supporting employees working from home guide: If your working practices are more flexible so your employees will be spending more time working from home than they did pre-covid, it is important to encourage best practice.

Graduated return to work guide: We designed our graduated return to work (GRTW) plans to help people overcome difficulties following illness or injury and support them back into the workplace.

With this in mind, we’ve created several comprehensive templates that you can edit to suit your business and employee needs:

Ongoing support using a Wellness action plan

We have also created a Wellness Action Plan and a companion document which can be used if your employee has ongoing health issues or a fluctuating condition, for example those who may still be in work but struggling. You can also use this to support the future management of the employee’s health in the workplace.

Online modules

Our online modules can also help you understand common health conditions and how to support an employee so they can remain in or return to work. Topics include mental health and stress awareness, musculoskeletal issues and sickness absence management.

Access them here.

Find more information and to stay up to date visit our dedicated COVID-19 information hub.

*Employees and their partner (if applicable) can access all Help@hand services. Children are eligible to access the remote GP and medical second opinion services up until their 18th birthday (24th birthday if in full-time education). Children over 18 can access the life, money and wellbeing confidential helpline and other online resources.

**Help@hand is a virtual, value-added benefit service which connects the employees of Unum customers to third party specialists who can help manage their health and wellbeing, and that of their family. Access to the service is facilitated by Unum at no cost to the Unum customer. Unum is not the provider of the service but can withdraw or change the service at any time. The service is entirely separate from any insurance policy provided by Unum and is subject to the terms and conditions of the relevant third-party specialists. There is no additional cost or increase in premium as a result of Unum making this benefit available.

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