A study reveals that two-thirds of companies admit that they have no plans in place for a resurgence of the COVID-19 virus. Larger firms are slightly better prepared for localised lockdowns (45%) and a second wave (39%) than SMEs, but the figures are still under half of businesses.

The report, entitled ‘Better Business Resilience’, was commissioned by Driving for Better Business (DfBB), the government-backed Highways England programme, surveying 150 SME business owners and over 150 decision-makers at board level in large enterprises.

The publication shows a snapshot of the attitudes and behaviours of SMEs and large enterprises towards business resilience across the UK. The report demonstrates the extent to which UK businesses were prepared for the COVID-19 lockdown, their responsiveness to lockdown, top concerns for business leaders, information currently reported at board level, changes to staff travel and mobility requirements, and their future preparedness.

Failure to prepare for the future

The findings show that many businesses failed to implement measures prior to lockdown, with one- quarter of SMEs not having any measures or policies in place to prepare. Large enterprises were more prepared than their SME counterparts; all large firms had prior measures or policies in place to mitigate the


effects of the pandemic and provision for subsequent government advice. Almost twice as many large firms had some form of policy in place to support staff wellbeing and health relating to COVID-19 compared to SMEs.

Responsiveness to lockdown measures was on the whole quite low with only 28% of large firms and 40% of SMEs introducing working from home policies for their staff. Measures to protect the mental health and wellbeing of staff varied across the nation. Nearly half of firms in Greater London (42%), the West Midlands (42%), and the East of England (45%) integrated COVID-19 wellbeing and welfare measures into their company policy; the North East of England lagged behind with only 29% of businesses introducing these measures.

Leaders’ top concerns over the impact of COVID-19

The report has found that the three main COVID-19 concerns among business leaders were over rebuilding their business after the pandemic (42%), operational costs (38%), and staff welfare and wellbeing (37%).

Beyond this, 37% of business leaders are concerned about operating profitably within government guidelines and staying in business in the event of another lockdown, with businesses in the West Midlands and the North East of England most concerned about these.

The impact of the pandemic on staff is also a major concern: almost a third (32%) of business leaders are worried about staff mental health, and 29% are worried about staff absences due to COVID-19.

Top of mind for business leaders are rebuilding their business and surviving any additional lockdown measures, while managing workforce welfare and mental health. However, the report has found that

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