As we all return to work, guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, states, and localities will help us understand our new working reality. We will also need to consider the emotional toll that the pandemic has on our workforce and their feelings about the current work landscape. Considering the circumstances, it is likely that employees will return to work with reluctance and concerns about their safety. Your team will need to feel encouraged and supported as they return to work. Here are some suggestions for keeping them safe and productive.
How to Ensure Employees Feel Safe Returning to The Office
Open Communication Lines
During the pandemic, communication was vital for people working from offices within their homes. As we return to our regular offices, maintaining regular open communication is more crucial than ever before. This frequent communication must include communicating openly about your company’s measures to keep employees safe and ensure their good health. Open communication also encourages your employees to come forward with their concerns and it facilitates open dialogue, so workers feel heard and understood.
Know What Your Employees Need to Feel Safe
Federal, state and local guidelines will include the necessary steps to help you keep your workforce safe. Your employees may feel as though they need additional equipment or resources to feel safe. Ask them what they need and try to handle it before returning to work by having a conversation or a quick survey. It might be face masks, extra cleaning supplies, hand sanitizers at their desks or visible housekeeping. However, some requests may not be realistic or within the budget. Ask your crew to share information, and at the very least, it will demonstrate that you care about their health.
Empathize With Your Team
During this time, your personnel are going to look to you for encouragement and guidance. They are also going to want acknowledgment that this is a stressful time for everyone. Recognize this and assure your team that it is OK to be anxious. Be prepared to offer resources through HR or an employee assistance program. Remind your employees often that these resources are available to them.
It is essential that you recognize when stress has become unmanageable for individual employees. Stress often leads to anxiety and even panic, so realize that employees might need personal days and medical intervention to cope. Be flexible and understanding when employees approach you with time-off requests. Encourage self-care activities at work and let them know that it is OK to take steps like relaxation exercises, listening to music, or taking regular breaks to manage stress.
Not Business As Usual
It is crucial to understand that this time is not business as usual. Reassure your staff that expectations are going to shift as you adjust to the new business climate. Let the team realize that you are all in this together, and you will do what is necessary to ensure your crew feels safe and supported while at work.
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