employer putting up COVID sign to welcome back employees to work

Returning Scared Employees to the Workplace

After six months of COVID-19, we are all happy to see some sort of slow return to normalcy. For most, this means putting the sweats away and physically return to the workplace. Many are excited about the change in scenery, but returning to work has surfaced fear and stress. As employers, we must recognize these feelings and work to create a safe and supportive environment for our people.

Preventative Measures

Employees want to know that their company is taking their health seriously. Make your employees aware of preventative measures you are taking, such as

  • temperature checks
  • social-distancing guidelines
  • cleaning/sanitizing procedures

This will help ensure their confidence in the safety of the workplace. Consider reaching out to employment screening vendors or insurance providers to see what COVID testing options you can offer. Perhaps the most impactful effect to surface from quarantining is our mental health.

Currently, depression and anxiety are reporting sharp increases, as is substance and domestic abuse, and stress issues. Communicating your efforts to support employee mental health/wellbeing and providing meaningful resources is critical. Many Employee Assistance Programs (EAP’s) offer free counseling sessions and online education on topics like

  • mindfulness and stress management
  • financial management
  • alcohol
  • substance abuse treatment
  • grief management
  • suicide prevention

Flexible Hours

Additionally, working parents and caregivers are facing hectic, changing school and childcare schedules. Consider allowing flexible work hours and adjusting meeting times so that employees can achieve an effective work/life balance. Share resources from FFCRA and FMLA, so employees understand all their options. Showing employees that they are supported holistically can significantly reduce their stress and smooth their transition back to the workplace.

Helpful Breaks

Allow for breaks from work to allow employees time to get outside and/or to check in with their family at home. Even small gestures like providing catered boxed lunches to reduce the “in and out” of the workplace go a long way towards easing employee stress. Remember to regularly check in with employees at all levels within the company. From executives to entry-level workers–no one is immune to the stresses of the world today. Create an environment where employees feel comfortable talking about their concerns and help them identify solutions. When we support employees during vulnerable times, they will, in turn, support us when we need it the most.

Contact us for more HR Consulting suggestions related to COVID and helping your employees transition back to the workplace. We can also provide assistance with your employee development and training.

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