So, Freedom Day is finally here….we no longer have to work from home, wear a mask or socially distance, we can hit the dance floor with our friends and cheer our football team on in a packed stadium if we so wish. This to many may be music to our ears, but to many others it may heighten anxieties and send an already fragile mental health into a downward spiral. Whatever our views from a political or medical point, remaining mindful of wellbeing in our return to work should as always, be at the forefront of our minds.
Communicate clearly with staff about safe working
Your organisation should ensure that the workplace is Covid safe before employees return and prior to this let them know what safety measures are in place and what they need to do. Encourage them to ask questions if they’re unsure about anything and signpost them to relevant contacts who can support them further. Knowing what safety measures are in place before returning can help a lot to make employees feel confident and at ease with re-entering the workplace.
Ask employees what their worries are and listen to their needs
Everyone’s situation is different, so it’s good to find out how you can help with individual needs and worries. Employees have their own specific challenges such as travel, health issues, financial stress, childcare and other caring responsibilities. Some may have fell ill themselves with Covid, others may have sadly lost love ones. We have all experienced a different version of this pandemic, with varying degrees of severity. Encourage them to be open with you about their concerns and try to keep an open mind by being attentive to ensure staff have the space to tell you what’s important to them.
Offer a stress risk assessment
A stress risk assessment is simply a careful examination of what in a workplace could cause staff to suffer from work-related stress, so that you can weigh up whether you have done enough, or should do more to prevent harm. In addition to organisational stress risk assessments, an individual stress risk assessment should be conducted when an employee reports they are experiencing work-related stress. Completing an individual stress risk assessment encourages an open forum to discuss perceived issues with a view to solving or reducing stress and this can provide all parties with an opportunity to discuss the support available and develop an individual action plan.
Accommodating and Caring Employer
Being accommodating to people’s needs even if your opinion differs, can be the whole difference between gaining trust and getting people back to work in some capacity. If they feel listened to, they will also feel cared for and safe – and will want to do their best. An example of this can be the individual choice of mask or visor wearing, where some people may feel safer and less anxious wearing one at work, even if not necessary. We know that we cannot accommodate every employee’s request – but actually showing empathy and caring for their wellbeing always opens up the conversation for mutually agreed solutions.
Employers must take an individualised approach in remaining mindful of welling in our return to work. Considering the physical, emotional and mental wellbeing of the workforce, as well as following and monitoring ongoing government guidance, will ensure a safe, relaxed and productive return. For further information on how we can assist and advise on this transition, please contact us here.