The past several months have been challenging for everyone. Since the arrival of COVID-19, we’ve all had to make a substantial amount of change in a short space of time.
As the curve flattens and restrictions ease in parts of the world, some of us again face the uncertainty of what the next phase of life and work will look like.
Readjusting after so much change and uncertainty can be stressful and unsettling. It’s important to remember that everyone responds to change differently, so you will need to be aware of some of the potential challenges your employees may be experiencing, so that know what you can do to help make the transition easier.
Below are some simple steps you can take to help your employees make the transition from home to work.
BE AWARE OF PEOPLE’S FEARS AND ANXIETIES
Leaving the safety of our homes may be a difficult transition for some. The fear of commuting, catching public transport or being in public spaces (such as the workplace), may cause some people to experience a heightened sense of anxiety. Parents, in particular, may experience separation anxiety around taking children to school and spending less time with their families. As an business, consider how you deal with the fears and concerns, people may have about returning to work. What are your expectations for their return? What protocols do you have in place to minimise those fears? Is there any room to negotiate working conditions?
KEEP YOUR EMPLOYEES INFORMED
Have open discussions with your team about the ways your business is minimising the health risks at the office, as well as safety measures when travelling to and from the office/worksite. This can be done as a whole business but can also be done in smaller teams – to allow people to have a better opportunity to voice their concerns.
ACTIVELY LISTEN TO THE NEEDS OF YOUR EMPLOYEES
Regularly check-in with your team to see how they’re coping and how they’re feeling about returning to work. Actively listen to employees’ needs and allow them to voice any worries or concerns they may have, and negotiate ways to help them feel more comfortable about returning to the workplace.
NOTICE ANY CHANGES IN BEHAVIOUR
Stress at work can present as hyperactivity, memory issues, difficulty concentrating, disengagement, failure to meet expectations, changes in personality or behaviour, increased interpersonal conflict or increased sick leave. Be aware of any changes you see and make time to check-in with how they’re coping. Offer support or encourage them to contact the Benestar team for free, confidential coaching and support.
MAKE TIME TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
Leading teams through change and uncertainty requires focus and resilience. Make time to regularly check-in with yourself and practice self-care. This could be ensuring you get enough sleep, taking regular breaks throughout the day, or making time for the things you enjoy. You can also contact our team here at Benestar for guidance on how to support yourself or the people within your team.
PREPARE FOR DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS ABOUT RETURNING TO WORK
You may find that some team members are particularly reluctant to return to work. Consider how comfortable you are with facilitating conversations to explore their concerns to find workable solutions. What are they worried about? What are some of the options that the business can offer? Can a transition plan be developed involving the staff member to support them?
This article has been prepared by AFA Care partner Benestar.