- Posted by Snapclarity
- On May 19, 2020
Across the country, employers of non-essential workers are gearing up to reopen workplaces as provincial governments make plans and announcements regarding relaxing the lockdown.
Understandably, many employers are eager for things to quickly return to normal, for steady revenue streams to return. But when it comes to a lift on restrictions, until COVID-19 is completely behind us, it is impossible for life to return the way it was prior to the pandemic—at least for the foreseeable future.
As businesses gradually reopen, employers must put careful thought and consideration into implementing the guidelines, policies, and procedures that can minimize the impact that COVID-19 continues to have on business operations. These unprecedented times do not fair a “one-size-fits-all” approach and what makes sense for one organization may be inefficient for others.
But when it comes to a lift on restrictions, it is understandable that employees will be hesitant to venture back out into the world. Many will experience anxiety about returning to the office, coupled with fears to use public transport again – nervous about a second wave of the pandemic.
It’s important to remember that everyone has had a unique experience of lockdown. And, a reintroduction to office life needs to be handled with sensitivity and care. Organizations must plan well to mitigate the transition risks while protecting the health and safety of employees.
5 considerations for supporting post-lockdown employee anxiety
1) Offer multiple working options
The reality is that lockdowns and exits may continue for some time in provinces where the threat of COVID-19 remains high. But for those where restrictions have been lifted, planning a staggered reintroduction to the office will help manage the number of workers returning and protect workplace health since having large volumes of employees return to a shared workplace presents the risk for the spreading and contracting of viruses. A great way to ease contamination fears and minimize exposure is to allow employees to continue working from home on certain days, or even rotate days off to include weekends for those who want to do so.
As always, it’s crucial to maintain healthy workplace hygiene by reminding sick staff to stay home – particularly vital with the continued risk of COVID-19 infection.
2) Rethink working spaces
Following the reopening, businesses will still need to observe regulations imposed during COVID-19, such as physical distancing, employee gatherings, and hygiene practices. It’s unlikely that pre-virus working environments adhere to these new restrictions and will require some thoughtful planning to protect the health and safety of employees. The health and safety requirements for 6 feet between employees inevitably impacts individual seating arrangements and shared spaces like cafeterias.
3) Maintain communications
The urgency to set up remote working in response to the lockdown led many organizations to improve communications with their team. Regular communications not only supports daily business initiatives but also provides reassurance and solutions for employees who understandably have questions and concerns in returning to the workplace. Employee surveys can capture workplace sentiment and help reveal how employees feel so the right supports can be provided.
4) Nurture workplace morale
For those who have been away from the workplace for weeks or months, returning will feel unsettling. Much may have changed and some coworkers may not be returning at all. Successful businesses thrive on motivated workforces, so leaders must invest in rebuilding workplace morale. A recent survey revealed that 41% of employees were afraid to go to work because of the risk of exposure. It’s crucial to acknowledge employee concerns and handle announcements with sensitivity to aid the success of reintroduction to office life.
5) Provide ample mental health support benefits
Taking measures to ensure employees are in the best physical and psychological health at times of transition is paramount. Everyone will be facing and handling specific challenges that are unique to their situation, so it’s essential to be empathetic, understanding, and flexible as workers try to navigate their return to the workplace.
Providing employees with a digital mental health benefit where they can connect to a licensed mental health professional will help them develop the appropriate strategies and introduce them to evidence-based tools to support them in navigating their fears and anxiety. Employees who struggle with pre-existing mental health issues may experience more intense symptoms and demonstrate a faster decline of performance and ability to cope. Having the right resources in place can be invaluable to your employees.
The power of your support
It’s essential that return to work programs be developed now. Beyond the consideration of the premises being cleaned properly, it’s vital that workers feel supported by their employers, and the best way to demonstrate this is to practice transparency and empathy. The power of the words you choose and the compassion you show should never be undervalued. Your support for employees returning to the workplace on an emotional level, will be something they remember forever.
Book a demo of the Snapclarity virtual mental healthcare platform to see how it will transform your employees’ experience.