icare uses history to help workers shape the 'new normal'

icare uses history to help workers shape the 'new normal' | Insurance Business

icare uses history to help workers shape the

Insurance company icare has created a new employer toolkit to help businesses enjoy a safe return to the workplace amid COVID-19.

Read more: icare shines spotlight on workforce sustainability amid COVID-19 recovery

The Recovery Employer Toolkit, led by Caroline Howe (pictured), head of the icare research team, was developed to offer workplaces practical steps to identify their operational needs and create protective strategies as they return to a ‘new normal.’

“The reason why we created the Employer Toolkit is that when the pandemic began, the first thing that we wanted to do was have a look at what evidence-based research was saying around workforce sustainability and recovery following an epidemic or a pandemic,” Howe said.

“We had a look at research over the last 100 years, and we looked at, when a crisis-situation happened at this scale, what are the short-term, mid-term and long-term impacts of something like this?”

Howe’s team’s research was aided by a partnership with universities across the nation, including the University of Melbourne and the University of Sydney.

“We wanted to have a look at which industries might be more likely to be impacted,” she explained. “Then what were the things that we needed to put in place to support a workforce going through this? How can we help them to recover knowing that every industry and every employer is very individual in their needs?”

The idea behind the toolkit, Howe explained, was to address the “many unknowns” of such an invasive health crisis.

“We’ve never, ever in the world had a pandemic of this scale. There are so many unknowns. When you’re talking about things like claims, that wasn’t even an issue  – this was really just about, if you have that many people who were employers or people who were working that were suddenly not able to do that, then how would you be able to support them stepping forward again in a safe way?”

Howe says in an event of such a grand scale, the first human response is fear, which compromises the ability to create a logical response.

“This [the toolkit] was to give people something logical and tangible to help them step forward,” Howe continued.

The most interesting takeaway from the research, which analysed tragic events that halted entire industries, including 9/11, SARS and Ebola, from Howe’s perspective, was the vital role of leadership.

“I think it was surprising that when you have a look at all of the different epidemics that have emerged from a pandemic – success is linked to good leadership,” she said.

“Every single time you had an event that stopped a workforce, things like 9/11, Ebola and SARS, they mostly only impacted medical, frontline workers. This is the first time you’ve actually got a pandemic that has impacted everybody at the same time but to varying degrees.

“What we found from the research was that as long as you have good leadership - and that’s from government, to employment management whether it be small, medium or large - and you have some clear and consistent communication and then you have the support tools, then your rate of recovery is a lot better.”

Howe says her team excluded litigation and workers’ compensation claims from their research because of the jurisdictional complexities that are applied and regulated separately through each state and territory.

“We were just looking at what would be the economic impact of the workforce components,” she said. “We didn’t look at individual claims and that’s because every single state and territory and every single jurisdiction around the world all have different rules.”

However, this is just the starting point for the firm’s ambitions.

“This toolkit is ‘Phase One’,” Howe explained. “So, this one looks at ‘how do you restart?’ And then the other toolkit, which is yet to be released, starts to look at some of the other components.”