Employers underestimate the likelihood of a ‘serious issue’ affecting staff, according to GRiD. Employers underestimate the likelihood of a ‘serious issue’ affecting staff, according to GRiD.

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Employers are underestimating the likelihood of a serious issue affecting their staff in the next twelve months, according to new research undertaken by GRiD, the industry body for the group risk protection sector.

For example, the figures show that despite nearly four in five (78 per cent) HR professionals at larger employers having supported a member of staff at their current workplace through bereavement, their prediction of needing to do the same in the forthcoming twelve months is lower at 65 per cent.

Similarly, many HRs at larger companies (76 per cent) have dealt with an employee being absent for six months or longer, but the perceived likelihood of doing this again in the next twelve months is just 60 per cent, 16 percentage points lower.

Further gaps in perception versus reality exist when HRs considered dealing with staff with mental health problems; dealing with staff who have been diagnosed with a serious illness such as cancer or stroke; and also in dealing with the death of an employee.

Regardless of whether an employer has had to deal with an issue previously, statistics demonstrate the actual likelihood of employees being affected by serious issues.

Macmillan’s figures show that 125,000 people of working age are diagnosed with cancer every year; Mind’s figures show 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem each year; and ONS data reveals that 16 per cent of people who died in 2017 were of working age.

“Statistics clearly show the likelihood of employees being affected by serious issues,” notes Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for Group Risk Development (GRiD). “Furthermore, employers need to realise that just because they’ve dealt with a serious incident with one employee, it unfortunately does not mean that they are in some way immune from it happening again.

“Indeed, larger organisations, and those with a specific demographic bias, may find themselves repeatedly dealing with a similar scenario for individuals within their workforce.”

GRiD also warns that each serious scenario should not be viewed in isolation, as clearly some are interlinked: for instance, a serious illness, long-term illness, or death of a loved one or colleague can lead to a mental health issue.

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