When Covid hit the workforce, the result brought layoffs, closings of businesses, working parents forced to turn in resignation letters, and professionals thrusted into remote work life. However, some people have started returning to the office or emerging back into the workforce as we all encounter a new normal.
Most likely, any employees looking to return do so with anxiety or apprehension. And this isn’t just about workplace scenarios. It’s about the continuous unknown with care or schooling for children, elderly family members, and other personal situations outside of work affected by the environment.
With anxiety negatively affecting workplace productivity, employers play a huge role in welcoming back employees and removing anxiousness from the equation. Doing so allows everyone to work towards business success together.
So, how can employers help employees transition back into the workforce or office after leaving during Covid?
Ask employees how they feel about coming back to work or the office. The answers might surprise you, and that gives you the opportunity to address the real challenges, not the assumed ones. Stay consistent with check-ins and meetings because situations might change day-to-day, and as an employer, you need to be aware of whatever reality presents itself.
With many used to workplace flexibility after being forced into it, whether that’s a hybrid work environment, a work-from-home environment, or taking time away from work, employers should consider an open mind when it comes to continuing the flexibility. 52% of workers prefer a more flexible work environment, and employees are serious about this, being willing to leave if it isn’t offered.
Come Up With a Plan
Employees need transparency and clearly defined goals or expectations as they return to work or the office. If the pandemic taught employers anything, it’s that you don’t just need a Plan A. Instead, you need a Plan B, Plan C, and possibly a Plan D. With the unknowns of returning to work or the office, get rid of the apprehension brought about by logistics and make sure they know what’s to come if certain scenarios play out.
Offer Mental Health Resources
Everyone has gone, and is going through different mental-health experiences as the pandemic evolves. Take into consideration the mental stability of your workforce. Provide your team resources to preserve mental health. For example, present employees with information about physicians they can talk to if needed or areas at the office where employees can silently meditate, work on breathing exercises, or journal during their break time. Leaders within the company who feel comfortable doing so could work in mental health check-ins during one-on-ones or consistently enough that employees feel supported.
Embrace In-Person Opportunities
We all lost in-person connections one way or another when the pandemic hit, both personally and professionally. Give employees the option to partake in more interpersonal communication. How many more Zoom happy hours can people do? Some people might still have anxiety with in-person contact but don’t put everyone in a box. There might be twice as many people who are excited to return to the office and crave that in-person experience. The least an employer can do is offer those with Zoom fatigue the chance to feed their interpersonal connections.
As workers come back to the workforce and office, there are plenty of ways employers can put their anxieties at ease. Which method works best for you, and what other ways can employers make sure employees feel supported as they return to work. Join the conversation on LinkedIn and check out How to Spot a Strong Mentorship Program.