Inspire autumn 2021

The latest health and wellbeing news from Towergate Health & Protection

Welcome to the latest edition of Inspire, our quarterly newsletter, designed to keep you informed about issues and developments that are relevant to your business.

In this edition we explore the common reasons for employee burnout and how to recognise this in the workplace, the recipe for getting fit and staying motivated, the looming threat of flash floods and how companies are shaking up their benefits to keep their employees happy. Plus, find out the latest from the insurers.

Is your company guilty of these common reasons for burnout?

It’s a common misconception that a holiday will solve employee burnout.

But when we probe a little harder it’s easy to see why this logic doesn’t make sense. Once an employee gets back from a holiday, they return to the same workplace environment that caused them to burn out in the first place. The cycle of burnout, unless workplace changes happen, is therefore likely to continue.


The Maslach Burnout Inventory, which is the most widely used scientific measure of burnout,1 names the following six domains as contributing factors to burnout: workload, control, reward, community, fairness and values.2

In line with these factors, a 2018 Gallup survey of 7,500 employees identified five main reasons for burnout.3 Do you recognise any of these in your workplace?

1. Unmanageable workload

Now in particular employees must contend with many different work demands, particularly if they’re absorbing the workload from employees off sick or picking up the slack from underperforming workers (especially in the case of remote working).

It’s of course necessary for workers to occasionally take on unforeseen responsibilities, but the employee’s capacity to do so is finite and it is vital employers recognise this instead of relying on uncomplaining employees to compensate for others’ chronic absence or underperformance.

2. Unfair treatment at work

According to Gallup, ‘When employees do not trust their manager, teammates or executive leadership, it breaks the psychological bond that makes work meaningful.’

It follows then that employees who ‘strongly agree’ that they are often treated unfairly at work are 2.3 times more likely to experience severe burnout.

Unfair treatment might include bias, favouritism, mistreatment by a co-worker, unfair compensation and unfair corporate policies.

3. Lack of role clarity

Unclear instructions can have a paralysing effect on people, leading to indecision and uncertainty. This is obviously not conducive to the type of workplace most employers want to craft, or the kind of performance they want to cultivate.

Employees who have clarity in their roles are 53% more efficient and 27% more effective at work than employees who don’t fully know what they’re doing, according to Effectory.4

What’s more, 75% of employees with high role clarity are significantly more passionate about their job and report higher levels of job satisfaction than others.

4. Lack of communication and support from their manager

According to the Gallup report, employees who strongly agree that they feel supported by their manager are approximately 70% less likely to burn out at a regular basis.

Furthermore, according to Rallyware,5 31% of employers say that poor communication results in low morale.

If the company’s migrated even in part to remote working, it’s especially important that managers ensure they’re communicating effectively with their employees and providing them with the right support as there are more barriers in the way.

5. Unreasonable time pressure

This fifth factor has the potential to form a vicious cycle: employees feel overwhelmed by deadlines and work hard to meet them, resulting in depleted efficiency levels and a building resentment.

In fact, according to Gallup employees who feel they have enough time to do their work are 70% less likely to experience more severe burnout.

As an employer, when there are things to do and obligations to be met, it can be tempting to think of unreasonable time constraints as a necessary evil, but this shouldn’t be true most of the time. On the occasion something does come along that needs a prompt turnaround, this should be in context of your employees feeling that their overall workload and deadlines are generally manageable and that the newly arisen, time-dependent obligation is unavoidable rather than a mismanagement on behalf of their employer.


1. Factor structure of the Maslach Burnout Inventory: An analysis of data from large scale cross-sectional surveys of nurses from eight countries | NCBI
2. Understanding the burnout experience: recent research and its implications for psychiatry |
3. Employee Burnout, Part 1: The 5 Main Causes |
4. HR analytics: role clarity impacts performance |
5. 69% of Managers Fail to Organize Communication with Their Employees: Here’s How to Fix It | Rallyware

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The recipe to getting – and staying - fit

The mental and physical benefits of exercise cannot be overstated. From reducing the risk of contracting certain diseases to boosting mental health and increasing lifespan,1 exercise is instrumental to our overall health and wellbeing.

But it’s not just about a spur of the moment inspiration to go on a walk or take the stairs every once in a while; it’s about creating and maintaining healthy habits for life.


That’s why we’ve compiled these four key points to help you not only get fit but stay fit.

1. It’s not all or nothing

It’s easy to get bogged down by expectations about what a workout should look like, but these ideas can be very unhelpful.

Forget about the ‘shoulds’ and focus on just doing something consistently. That could be just ten press-ups during the interim of your favourite TV show or while on a quick tea break from work. You could even opt for running up the stairs instead of walking.

Once you’re in your groove, you’ll find you naturally want to do more all on your own.

2. Work out why

According to The Guardian, factors like our appearance only provide short-term motivation to keep exercising.2

Instead, the longevity of keeping fit seems to depend on ‘immediate positive feelings’ like making friends, having increased energy and stress reduction. Rather than being abstract ideas, these things deliver benefits that are ‘valuable to [your] daily life’.

So before you commit to working out regularly, first work out why you want to.

3. Don’t settle for being bored

Don’t like exercise? You’re not alone. While the science is clear that pleasurable endorphins released by exercising encourage people to get back to the gym, many people just never warm up to the process of getting – or staying – fit.

If that’s you, that’s fine. You don’t need to suffer through exercise with no reprieve. Instead, seek out alternatives that allow you to get in some of your weekly workout while you do other things, like listening to an audiobook while you go for a walk. You can even do exercises from your sofa while you watch the TV.

4. The rule of 4

This helpful rule shared by The Guardian may be the key to stopping your fitness routine from fizzling out.

“I have one simple rule…I do not allow more than four days to elapse between sessions,” shares Joanne Chalmers.

It’s easy to find excuses for why the four-day rule is impractical – e.g., general unplanned-for chaos – but there’s a solution for this, too.

“If I know I have a busy couple of days coming up,” Chalmers says, “I make sure I run before them so that I have ‘banked’ my four days.”

This rule is so effective that Chalmers has kept it up for ten years.


1. Benefits of exercise | NHS
2. How to stay fit forever: 25 tips to keep moving when life gets in the way | The Guardian

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3 reasons employers are looking twice at group protection

In the wake of the pandemic, public awareness of health and mortality are at the forefront of many people’s minds as they ask questions like, ‘What would happen to me if I couldn’t work?’ and ‘What would happen to my family if I wasn’t here?’

In the wake of the economic uncertainty and instability the UK has experienced over the past two years, group income protection (GIP) and group life insurance have been elevated to a newly prized status among employees for three key reasons.


1. It doesn’t have to be monetary, but workers need rewards

The financial strain Covid-19 put on many businesses means that, even with the UK having largely turned back to ‘normal’, companies may not be able to monetarily reward employees.

At the same time, your workforce morale often depends on some kind of recognition or reward. Especially if your company has experienced job losses over the past couple of years, which often means fewer employees having to absorb extra responsibilities; cases like these can often promote burnout and breed employee resentment.

One of the best features of group life or income protection insurance is that it offers benefits aside from financial payments in the event of a claim. Common benefits included in the cost of cover are mental health counselling, access to a virtual GP, EAPs, and fitness and nutrition advice.

Your employees will find these practical benefits not only useful to their day-to-day lives, but symbolic of your care for them as an employer and of your recognition of their hard work.

2. It’s cost efficient

There are a number of reasons group protection is so cost effective.

For one, the insurance premiums themselves are relatively low. Many companies who may not have the financial means – especially in the current time – to offer their employees a pay rise could consider introducing a new benefit for staff as an alternative. Group protection policies allow you to offer your employees a highly valuable benefit at relatively little cost to the company at around just 0.5% of each employee’s salary per month.

As well as the additional benefits included in the cost of cover mentioned above, group income protection works hard to protect your company from the cost of sickness even before an employee is absent for long enough to trigger a claim. The insurers invest heavily in rehabilitation services that you can use to help your employees recover quickly, so they can return to work swiftly and safely.

To give an example, an employee covered by group income protection who starts to suffer from musculoskeletal problems (for example, back pain) will usually be able to access support services through their income protection cover which help with their rehabilitation and recovery. When used effectively, these services can either prevent the employee from taking time off sick or minimise the duration of their sick leave, which in turn can save your company potentially enormous costs in sickness absence.

3. Retaining the best talent

This timeless reason for reviewing your employee benefits is also perhaps the most important one.

Long gone are the days when a good salary was all that sufficed to retain the top talent. Now, 78% of employees say that the benefits a company offers is either important or extremely important to their consideration of a role.1

Smaller companies in particular benefit from group insurance because of the low cost of providing the service compared to the high perceived value of the benefit in prospective employees’ eyes.

Additionally, highly experienced workers with years in their given industry who have invaluable experience will want to make sure their company is prepared to take care of them if they were to become unwell, and look after their family if the worst was to happen.

The UK is currently experiencing nationwide staff shortages across a number of key industries. These shortages are causing those employers to increase the salaries they’re offering in order to attract staff, but this is only a temporary solution; employees dissatisfied with the overall package, including benefits on offer, will have little incentive to stay and, as the climate of recruitment shortages continues, are likely to be drawn away by employers offering a more enticing benefits roster.


1. Statistics show the importance of employee benefits | Employee Benefits

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Preparing for storms

While weather forecasting has improved significantly throughout the years, there is still little warning of when and where localised flash flooding may take place.

Recent heatwaves (and more extreme conditions) have intensified flooding throughout Europe and the UK. While climate change may be largely to blame, overtaxed drainage systems and inadequate risk management strategies have led to catastrophic damage for both residential and commercial properties. What can you do to be better prepared?


Flash flooding in Europe

Even climate scientists are shocked by the scale of recent summer floods in Germany. In an area that usually sees 80 litres of rainfall in the entire month of July, 148 litres per square metre fell in just 48 hours in parts of Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia.

Switzerland documented their heaviest rainfall on record, after a Zurich thunderstorm saw 4cm falling overnight. This led to flash flooding, logistical issues and travel chaos in the city and its surrounds.

Local flash floods

Closer to home, west London was hit by severe flooding in early July 2021. Water rushed towards the platforms at Sloane Square station, barriers were erected in Chalk Farm and Hampstead, Euston station was closed, and in Primrose Hill people were seen swimming in ponds created by thunderstorms.

While climate change is largely to blame, overtaxed drainage systems exacerbate the problem. Thus was the case for the Gough family who saw their new home submerged after unexpected flash flooding in Dorset.

They believe that the damage was caused by inadequate drainage maintenance. These systems not only reduce peak water levels, but give communities affected by flooding, more time to prepare for the worst.

While the consequences for residential properties can be personally tragic, the outcomes for commercial properties can be catastrophic for both you and your employees. In addition to physical damage to the premises itself, losses can also incur from business interruption and damage to stock, equipment, fixtures and fittings and general contamination.

Flood preparation

According to the insurance company QBE, ‘planning in advance and taking a few sensible precautions could save disruption and money, should the worst occur.’ Some of the measures that they suggest include:

  • Not storing stock directly on the floor. Even raising it by 100mm can make a big difference
  • If you can, avoid storing stock/objects directly under valley gutters. If not, then try and store lower value, less vulnerable goods in these areas
  • Check that normal surface water drains and other flow routes are unobstructed
  • Electrical, electronic, and other sensitive equipment may be directly under potential water entry points. In the short term, think how you can protect it; in the longer term, ask yourself if this is the correct location for it
  • Consider cellars, basements, trenches, pits, loading docks and other low-lying areas. After an extended dry period, water run off paths may be significantly different from the usual routes. If you have had any incidence of water ingress before, then be prepared with sandbags, flood barriers or similar solutions, such as Floodsax.

This article was taken from the Towergate Insurance Brokers newsletter

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Latest news from the insurers

Have you heard the latest from the insurers?

Here are the most recent updates from some of the key providers, including Aviva, Bupa, Medicash, Simplyhealth and Vitality...



12 August 2021 – How to spot if your employees are burning out

Dr. Doug Wright of Aviva looks at how to spot the signs of burnout and what you and your employees can do to prevent it.

10 August 2021 – Mars and Venus: the gender perspective on working patterns

Aviva’s research explores the gender divisions behind people’s pandemic experiences and attitudes towards hybrid working.


2 September 2021 – Bupa UK Insurance agrees new three-year contract with Circle Health Group, owner of BMI

Bupa UK Insurance and Circle Health Group will continue to work together to deliver care to customers with a new three-year contract through to January 2024.

13 August 2021 – One in 10 put off cancer screenings

Over one in 10 Brits have chosen to miss or delay a cancer screening, according to a new study by Bupa Health Clinics.


12 August 2021 - Vitality publishes 2020 protection claims statistics

Vitality has published its claims statistics for 2020, which shows that it paid out £91.6m in claims across life, serious illness and income protection cover in 2020.

Best of the rest


5 August 2021– Jonathan Brown announced as new chair of Medicash

Medicash has announced that Jonathan Brown, who joined the Medicash Board in December 2020, will take over the role of Chair.

1 July 2021 – Medicash launches self-managed physiotherapy into health insurance market in partnership with EQL

Medicash has launched self-care app Phio for people who require musculoskeletal (MSK) treatment.


9 August 2021 – Only 7% of men prioritise their mental health - but we're at a breaking point where everything's changing, says Martin Kemp

Simplyhealth’s new campaign ‘Everyman’s Health Matters’ delves into men’s reluctance to talk about their mental health.

22 July 2021 – Survey suggests confusion around healthcare plans, as 84% overestimate monthly cost

While 96% of people say they are now focused on their holistic health – according to a Simplyhealth survey – only 13% reported paying monthly for health benefits that could help them with everyday wellness.

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