Inspire winter 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 look at how employers can prepare themselves for ‘The Great Resignation’, how to deal with a toxic worker, and some key tips on how to protect your immune system this winter. We also discuss the shortage of building matter that’s led to a prise rise warning. Plus, find out the latest from the insurers.

How employers can manage ‘The Great Resignation’?

Nearly a quarter of UK workers are planning to change employers in the next few months in a move that’s being termed ‘The Great Resignation.’

This is a sharp increase to the usual yearly rate of employee resignations, which stands at around 11%. So, what’s making employees move?


According to Victoria Short, CEO of recruitment firm Randstad UK, there are a few key reasons. Many workers stayed in roles they were unsatisfied with during the pandemic and are now seizing the opportunity to find new employment.

Short also names burnout as another significant factor. “The pandemic has changed how some people think about life, work…it’s made people step back and rethink their lives.”

As you can imagine, the mass exodus of employees will not come cheaply to the employer. Research has found that new employees take an average of 28 weeks to reach ‘optimum productivity’ – costing the employer £25,200 per employee.1

So, how can you make your employees stay?

In order for your company to reach its fullest retention potential, you need to understand what employees are looking for.

A study conducted by Aviva2 found that the top five planned career moves over the next 12 months (from October 2021) were:

  • Finding a role which will allow them to work from home
  • Planning to retrain/learn new skills
  • Gaining more academic qualifications
  • Following a completely new career path
  • Planning to find a role which helps others/makes a difference to those in need

The respondents of the study named the following as the biggest dealbreakers when it comes to considering new opportunities:

  • Option to work flexible hours
  • Working from home some of the time
  • Working from home all of the time
  • Reducing hours to work part time
  • The option to work longer hours over a shorter number of days

Harvard Business Review present a more refined picture of what employees want, but there is some overlap with the above study.3

1. Flexible options

This was desired by 88% of those who took park in the study.

Most businesses won’t be able to accommodate this requirement for all employees but what’s important is that workers are afforded a degree of flexibility in a world that’s increasingly adopting a hybrid working model.

2. Rethinking what ‘productivity’ means

We traditionally understand our productivity in terms of hours – after all, employees are typically contracted for a set number of hours each week.

This view is changing, however. “Today’s employees want to be measured on the value they deliver, not the volume,” report Harvard Business Review. “And they expect to be given the space and trust they need to do their very best work, wherever they happen to be.”

3. Employees want to work with a diverse team

Employees and managers agree that they want to work for a company that prioritises diversity.

66% of HR directors have even said that as skills, roles and company requirements change over time, a diverse workforce will become even more important.

The Great Resignation should not be thought of as a single event that will over time dwindle into a less threatening situation. Instead, the mass exodus of workers across the UK should be thought of as a herald of employee self-realisation; more and more, workers are developing clearer ideas about what they expect from their company and the workplace, and as these ideas continue to crystallise it’s important that employers not just pay attention but show a willingness to adapt – or risk getting left behind.


1. 'The Great Resignation’: almost one in four UK workers planning job change | Work & careers | The Guardian
2. 22 million UK workers seek change | Aviva plc
3. What Your Future Employees Want Most |

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How to deal with a toxic worker

Team dynamics have the capacity to boost or break employee morale. In an SME setting in particular, where there are fewer employees, how your employees treat their co-workers can have a significant impact on team wellbeing.

That’s why it’s important to take action sooner rather than later.


So, what does a toxic worker look like?

In a professional setting toxicity might take a more understated form, but that doesn’t make it more tolerable for your other employees to bear. Because it can be a little harder to spot than in a casual setting, like a social setting for example, it may even go largely unchecked.

Here are the signs to look out for. A toxic worker might:

  • Undermine others’ workplace achievements
  • Be passive aggressive instead of communicating their thoughts and feelings
  • Create an atmosphere of tension when they’re unhappy
  • Be unwilling to take responsibility or accountability
  • Have a penchant for gossip

How to address the issue

Though a private conversation is the best place to start, if you do see toxic behaviour play out in front of you, you should respectfully call it out. At the end of the day, that’s one of the responsibilities of the manager: to protect the integrity of the team.

The more that you let slide without comment, the more the toxic individual’s behaviour is reinforced as acceptable. It also shows the rest of your employees that their workplace isn’t a safe environment, and they may be discouraged from speaking to you about the issue for fear that you don’t see such behaviour as a problem.

No one, however, should feel personally attacked, so make sure you’re commenting on the individual’s behaviour rather than the person themselves. This is also more conducive to the individual changing their behaviour.

Your company will also want to document those instances that don’t seem right, which HR are well placed to deal with.1 While your company may not initially feel that these occurrences are substantial enough to record, you might be surprised by how quickly the records build up. Plus, if things in the workplace get so bad that HR do need to intervene, those documents will provide the foundation you need to move forward with a case.


1. Manage Toxic Employees | Monster

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How to protect your immune system this winter

According to The Independent, cold and flu cases are expected to rise sharply this winter; while lockdown meant most of us were largely free from the common cold as we kept inside, it also means that this winter’s virus pool is likely to be larger.

But there are a few things you can do to make sure your immune system is in tip-top shape for flu season.1


1. Vitamin D

According to a 2017 study of more than 10,000 patients, people with low vitamin D levels are more likely to develop upper respiratory tract infections than those with sufficient levels.

According to Dr Ross Watton, it’s especially important during winter months – when there’s lower levels of light available – to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D, e.g., through a supplement.

2. Stay at home if you’re sick

Though it might be tempting to go into work when you’re feeling unwell, you won’t be doing your teammates any favours if you do.

In winter in particular, when these viruses begin to circulate and people tend to stay indoors, it’s important you stay home if you’re feeling sick so you don’t run the chance of passing the bug onto anyone else.

Dr. Elly Gaunt, research fellow at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, stresses that the symptoms of the common cold and other winter viruses may be ‘indistinguishable’ from Covid-19 – that’s why you should stay home if you feel sick.

3. Exercise regularly

There is evidence that exercise helps to boost your immune system, allowing it to better defend the body against viruses.

You don’t need to be pumping out an intense one-hour workout seven days a week – even ‘gentle exercises’ can improve the functionality of your immune system.

4. Don’t touch your mouth, eyes, or nose

According to chairman of family medicine at the University of Miami School of Medicine, Robert Schwartz, viruses mainly get into your system via the ‘oral and respiratory nasal route’.

It’s therefore important you try to limit touching your face as much as possible.

Make sure you’re also regularly sanitising your mobile phone as they’re often brimming with germs.


1. Return of the common cold: Why symptoms may feel worse this year and how to protect against it | The Independent

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Price rise warning amid shortage of building matter

Contractors have been left reeling by another huge materials price hike as a major concrete products manufacturer announced 15% increases.

It has been reported that contractors have been sent letters from Creagh Concrete detailing 15% price rises across its range of concrete products.


The increase came into force from September 1 and is the latest materials price hike, following sudden rises in the price of steel and bricks.

Contractors say they are experiencing challenges in the current market, but this is a real blow as Creagh imposed increases at short notice and they may be passed on to customers who have already committed to fixed price contracts with their clients.

Creagh is a major supplier of concrete products across the UK, from its manufacturing bases in Northern Ireland, Scotland and England.

At the same time, Jewson has warned of price rises due to a supply chain crisis that has meant cement, plasterboard and insulation materials are being rationed by manufacturers. They have told customers that prices for a range of goods will rise by as much as a fifth amid growing evidence from across the construction sector of severe and sustained disruption linked to Covid and Brexit.

In a further sign of the fallout in the UK from the coronavirus and exiting the EU, the latest snapshot from IHS Markit and the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) revealed a decline in growth across housebuilding, commercial work and civil engineering for the construction industry, as the restricted supply of materials and transport issues weighed on activity.

Brian Berry, the chief executive of the Federation of Master Builders, said: “Builders throughout the UK, particularly smaller firms, are struggling to recover from the pandemic as a result of the continued materials crisis.”

Reflecting intense disruption across the industry, Jewson said that some building materials producers were using an “allocation process” to limit the supply of in-demand products. This would, in turn, affect its wholesale customers.

It said Hanson was allocating cement to ensure “fair supply in the market”, which had led Jewson to limit certain products to five an order. British Gypsum had introduced an allocation process for plasterboard, while the insulation firm Recticel had taken similar steps.

Jewson said soaring demand for certain products and supply shortages had forced it to put up some of its prices this month, such as a 10-15% increase for wheelbarrows, a 5-20% rise for sealants, adhesives and chemicals, a 12% increase for glass wool insulation and a 20% jump for MDF mouldings.

It also told customers to expect longer delivery times for kitchen appliances with in-built microchips, such as combi and microwave ovens, amid shortages of chips worldwide.

Travis Perkins has also warned of shortages of timber and plasterboard, while firms including Ikea, B&Q, Homebase and Argos tell of supply chain problems.

Business leaders have said chronic shortages of workers and key materials are beginning to weigh on Britain’s economic recovery from the winter lockdown, with disruption to global supply chains caused by the pandemic exacerbated by Brexit migration rules and border controls.

Economists have said that higher costs facing industry are likely to be passed on to British consumers in the form of higher prices for a range of goods and services.

Construction firms said their costs rose at the second-fastest rate in the 24-year history of the PMI survey, surpassed only by a record rise in June 2021. Among those materials reported as up in price, the most common were concrete, fuel, steel, and timber.

Businesses noted a continued resumption of projects that had been delayed because of Brexit and Covid but said client confidence was being hit by shortages of raw material supplies and increased cost burdens.

Duncan Brock, the group director at CIPS, said: “A combination of ongoing Covid restrictions, Brexit delays and shipping hold-ups were responsible as builders were unable to complete some of the pipelines of work knocking on their door.

This article is from the Towergate Insurance Brokers newsletter. You can find the full version here.

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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 AXA, Aviva, Bupa, Medicash, Simplyhealth and Vitality.



19 October 2021 - 70% of Brits agree it’s time to get back to the good stuff

As almost two-thirds of British people say they value their free time more now than before the pandemic, almost six in 10 say that life’s mundane tasks get in the way of what they’d like to be doing.

29 September 2021 - The AXA Future Risk Report 2021: Climate change biggest concern for UK, ahead of pandemics

From a possible 25 risks that could impact the world within the next decade, more than two-thirds of UK risk experts and nearly six in 10 of the UK population ranked climate change as the top risk.


18 November 2021 – Aviva risk insights report

Aviva’s second risk report captures views of 1,251 business leaders from small, medium and large UK businesses across nine industry sectors and outlines key risks for the year ahead.

13 October 2021 – Savings slump looms as living costs set to rise

74% of UK adults are concerned by rising inflation and cost of living, with mid-lifers bearing the brunt of anxiety.


18 November 2021 – A quarter of men put off health issues

A quarter of men have put off having a health issue checked, according to a new study by Bupa Health Clinics, released for Men’s Health Month.

15 October 2021 – Bupa UK launches menopause helpline

Around eight in every ten women will experience symptoms of menopause, including a range of physical and mental challenges, which can have a significant impact on their confidence and performance at work.

13 October 2021 – The UK Health & Protection Awards 2021 Winners

2021 was a year of big wins for Bupa, who took home a total of seven titles at the UK Health & Protection Awards.


8 October 2021 – Medicash recognised as Health Cash Plan of the Year

The Workplace Savings and Benefits Awards have presented Medicash with the Health Cash Plan of the Year award for 2021.


19 October 2021 – Simplyhealth donation helps get 50 community sports groups back up and running

Simplyhealth has donated more than £140,000 to a charity that supports community sport and youth groups across the UK.

4 October 2021 – Simplyhealth pledges to invest in providing dental services to those most in need

Simplyhealth’s investment means charity Dentaid can create and safeguard up to 25 mobile outreach clinics for homeless and vulnerable people across the UK.


19 October 2021 – Pioneering algorithm calculates the number of years individuals can expect to live in good health

In collaboration with RAND Europe, Vitality Calculator predicts an individual’s health span and future health risks.

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