Employers' COVID policies trigger talent gap

  • 23% of workers are planning to move companies in the next 12 months, based on how their employers dealt with lockdown 


More than a quarter (27%) of those who worked from home during lockdown are reconsidering their career options because of how their employer dealt with lockdown, new research from Canada Life reveals. As a result, one in five (23%) want to move companies and 23% are thinking about setting up their own business and becoming self-employed.


Paul Avis, Canada Life group insurance marketing director said:

“This year has presented huge challenges for employers; for most, the change to business and service delivery has been massive. The logistics of moving staff to home working environments; managing the emotional, physical and social challenges of running a business during lockdown; the application for grants; and the implementation of the furlough scheme all started a process which is still ongoing.


“Next, comes the ending of the furlough scheme, possible redundancies and restructuring, and the process of getting staff back into the workplace safely. For most, it’s been a case of learning on the job, but our research shows that organisations which have put the needs of their staff first, been flexible, and listened and acted for the benefit of their people, are most likely to have come out on top.” 


To best support employees, business leaders should consider the following measures (according to employees who are yet to return): 

  • Flexible working hours - a quarter (26%) of employees would like to see this
  • Arranging better home office setups for when staff work from home (17%)
  • Enabling access to better mental health support for employees (15%)
  • Address issues like presenteeism in the workplace (15%)
  • Support staff in upgrading their WiFI connectivity so they can work from home more effectively (13%)


The Government is now urging companies to work from home if they can - however, those planning longer term are thinking about a phased return in the future. With no blueprint to follow or previous experience to draw on, there are lessons that business leaders can learn from those that had already opened their doors. A fifth (21%) of workers who have returned wish they’d had more guidance on how to stay protected in the workplace and another 21% think mandated flexible working would have made their return easier. 


Paul Avis continued: 

“Now we’re coming out the other side of lockdown, employees are starting to think about their futures and what they want from their working lives. In some instances, lockdown has become a period of reflection and some now want a complete career change, while others are thinking about moving companies. As a result, employers could face a retention challenge and potentially a talent gap, and a dip in productivity. It can cost up to £30,000 to replace a member of staff, so the business case alone for investing in staff retention is compelling. And for those that remain, there will be additional work to be covered, so mental health and wellbeing support will become increasingly important, as it has been throughout the COVID-19 crisis.”


Group Protection insurers offer a raft of support services that can help with this, usually at no additional charge. For example Canada Life recently launched ‘WeCare’ for all its CLASS customers. It’s an extensive virtual support service covering physical health, mental health and wellbeing support2 to over 9,000 employers and their 150,000 employees and families and a great tool for employers to show their commitment to their staff and to support their needs.



  1. Source: research among 2,001 UK adults, of which 624 have been working from home during lockdown 3rd July – 7th July 2020, conducted by Opinium Research.


  1. WeCare provides an extensive range of virtual services covering health, mental health and wellbeing support, and include virtual GP consultations, second medical opinion services, smoking cessation support, mental health support, life event counselling, burnout prevention, diet support and get fit programmes. Available  through over 9,000 employers and their 150,000 employees and families. https://www.canadalife.co.uk/news/introducing-wecare-class-latest-addition


  1. £30,000 cost to replace an employee: https://www.axa.co.uk/newsroom/media-releases/2016/the-cost-of-lost-employees-for-smes/