Over the past year, employers and HR teams have worked tirelessly to navigate new, safer ways for people to work. This included remote working styles, policy changes and wellbeing initiatives to support workforces through the pandemic.
However, it has not been easy. Few of us have made it through the Covid pandemic without significant disruption to our lives, both at work and at home. Ever-changing rules have caused uncertainty among the future of work and employees have had to adapt to a completely new work environment when working from home. As a result, it is not hard to understand why employees are feeling less motivated and less connected to their colleagues.
So, with the return to work looking promising over the next few months, many employees are anxious about going back to ‘normality’. With Government plans constantly changing, planning ahead remains challenging. However, employers must use this time to prepare their staff for the changes ahead, and to create a workplace that remains safe and supportive to its workforce.
While many are excited to return to their desks, employers must understand that many people are worried to retune back to normal ways of life. After fearing Covid for so long, these anxieties will not simply disappear as soon as rules are lifted. According to a study by Westfield Health, over half of the workforce (51%) is anxious about going into work. But what can managers do to support their staff and curb anxieties about returning to work?
One important thing that employers can do is communicate with their employees. Uncertainty only increases anxiety and stress, so managers must be able to clearly communicate future plans to return to work. This can include specific dates and measures that will be employed to ensure safety in the workplace. While uncertainty is unavoidable at the moment, open communication can help lessen its impact on employee anxiety.
Listening To Your Employees
However, communication should not only be from employers; employees need to feel that they are being heard too. Two-way communication will help to make employees feel they have control over the future of their work in an uncertain time.
Employers can create this dialogue by gathering honest employee feedback. According to studies, the most-requested initiatives by employees were flexible working options, mental health support, policies to support wellbeing and fast access to healthcare. However, it is important to note that the best way to handle the return to work will be different for each business. This depends on all kinds of factors: company size, location, and the type of work. Therefore, it is vital that employers do not base their decisions on studies or on other businesses but ask their own employees to understand how best to support them.
This helps employers to be confident in their decisions, ensuring that plans move forward at a pace that suits the whole organisation. By listening to employees and taking their opinions on board, companies can shape their workplaces into spaces that suit everyone. Not only is this a practical way to find solutions, but it will also improve wellbeing and morale throughout the workforce.
With rules constantly changing, employers must ensure that their policies are flexible to accommodate government guidelines. To prepare for this, managers can set out the broad principles of their new working policies, while leaving room for flexibility too.
Flexibility is also key to accommodate the needs of individuals. Some may feel more comfortable working remotely, and health concerns must be acknowledged. With open communication with their staff, employers can ensure that they create flexible working policies which support the wellbeing of their workforce.