A guide to the post-lockdown workplace
The Covid-19 pandemic has transformed all aspects of our society in a short space of time. It has shut-down workplaces, postponed recreational activities, and halted normal social interactions. As the country begins to ease out of lockdown, we are experiencing a new change, with more workplaces beginning to open their doors.
Employees are experiencing mixed emotions about returning to work. One study found that 60% of workers missed socialising with colleagues, and 45% missed being able to separate personal and work life. On the contrary, our social media poll found that 48% of people are worried about workplace social distancing and hygiene, and a further 24% are concerned about safely commuting. In these circumstances, employees will be increasingly prone to experiencing higher levels of stress and anxiety. The challenge for businesses is to create a workplace in which workers can comfortably return.
Aside from implementing physical safety measures, employers must also be attentive to employee mental health during these transitions. Below are four ways that you can better support your employees’ well-being during these uncertain times.
1. Be Flexible
Employers should consider the diverse needs of their employees. For example, a furloughed worker is likely to need time to readjust to work, and perhaps a phased approach would make the transition smoother. Other workers may wish to shift their working hours because of childcare responsibilities or general safety concerns about commuting.
Moreover, many companies do not see themselves returning to the pre-lockdown ways of working. These companies are likely to accommodate for more remote working long-term, with many considering smaller office spaces. The way that companies approach work needs to be more flexible and accommodating for the variety of circumstances in which staff find themselves.
2. Stay Connected
For many businesses, some or all staff members will be working from home. While some prefer working remotely, others may struggle to manage their workload at home, or may miss the social aspect of the office. It is important to check-in on staff and hold team meetings and even social gatherings online to stay connected. Take a look at our free online wellbeing course for more top tips on staying connected.
3. Communicate Change Effectively
One of the main concerns that people have about returning to the workplace is social distancing and safety. To ensure staff feel comfortable, employers should be very transparent about what they are doing to make the workplace a safe environment. They must also be clear about any new protocols or policies. These can be communicated using a variety of methods such as newsletters, company intranet or team meetings. It may also be helpful to signpost colleagues to a designated person or team who can offer advice and support.
4. Protect Mental Health
Now more than ever, it is vital that employee mental health and wellbeing are cared for. In 2018, a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) study found that approximately half of workplace absences due to ill health were related to stress and mental wellbeing. This is an issue that will only be exacerbated by the pandemic. Companies therefore need to reinvent and update their mental health and well-being initiatives. This will not only reduce absences; it will also help maintain employee motivation and engagement, thus resulting in greater employee wellbeing and job satisfaction.
Fortunately, there are many proactive measures and training initiatives that your company can implement to ensure healthy, motivated, and productive teams. For more information, take a look at our workplace wellbeing courses including Mental Health Training For Managers, Mental Health At Work Training For Employees and more.