As the world nears an unlock, organizations plan to resume operations and intend to bring employees back to work in a staggered manner. While workspace design considerations and logistics planning take precedence, addressing employee re-entry anxieties will also be of paramount importance.
According to a Weber Shandwick and KRC research about 45% employees fear returning to work before it’s safe, owing to the ongoing situation. Managing the mental and emotional health of employees becomes critical for addressing the overall wellbeing of the organization. While workforce re-entry is the need of the hour, managers must alleviate workspace anxiety to maximize productivity and curb disengagement of employees. Here are some ways of managing re-entry anxiety of employees :
Employees should be consistently briefed about workspace policies and safety measures to remove any ambiguity and instill confidence. Regular updates and clarifying doubts can initiate a two-way dialogue between the management and the employees, making the transition as smooth as possible. Keeping the employees in the loop can help them understand the impact of the pandemic on the company and pave ways to determine and address any grievances.
Train the managers to support the employees
As Managers are an important link between the management and the employees, they shoulder greater responsibility to ensure employees have a smooth transition into the new normal. Managers should be trained and familiarized with the key triggers of stress and emotional distress as they will play a crucial role in determining employee wellbeing. They can hold team meetings and one-to-one meetings with employees to solve ambiguities and resolve issues and questions real-time. Some support groups and networks can also be formulated to help employees reconnect virtually and overcome apprehensions together. This practice can help lower employee anxieties and enable them to adapt with the new procedures connected with the re-entry phase.
While the lockdown has been a great push to implement work-from-home policies, nothing replaces the human connection and the joys of achieving goals together. Most employees complained experiencing insecurities and anxieties while working remotely which hampered their productivity and motivation to work. As companies world-over eye workspace resumption, employees should be allowed to make the re-entry leap in a staggered manner. It is imperative to reevaluate workplace policies and decide the immediacy at which the functions should resume work. While some companies are choosing to work on alternate days, others are looking at rotational shifts, each company should suit their business requirements and decipher a suitable model, keeping in mind employee safety and government guidelines.
Introduce Employee Engagement Programs
Having employees work on projects together or crowdsourcing ideas from different teams is an effective way to keep employees engaged and motivated to stay committed to their goals. Employee engagement plans can be an integrated learning and development program or a photography contest or even a fitness contest among teams. Such employee engagement programs help boost employee morale and help them feel connected and keep them happier.
Focus on team building
Maximizing collaboration and using team building exercises is an effective way of anxiety management. Every team is facing some or the other challenges, when people collaborate to achieve common goals, stress can be eliminated, and goals can be efficiently achieved. Team building is a steppingstone towards building a strong culture in the organization and effectively resolving conflicts. After all, shared experiences can help members feel connected and engaged.
One-on-one feedback sessions
Many employees are likely to experience a high level of anxiety owing to the dearth of feedback from their managers. Regular one-on-one feedback sessions between superiors and subordinates is an effective mechanism to reduce stress. It assures employees that they are on the right track and enables them to overcome their shortcomings on the go. Such light- hearted feedback sessions help employees stay focused towards their goal and eliminates anxiety.
While companies are innovating newer methods for keeping employees physically safe by using social distancing markups, contactless technology integration at workplace, installing automatic sanitizer dispensers among other measures, they should also pay a close attention towards the psychological health and wellbeing of the employees. Adapting to the ‘new normal’ upon workplace resumption can be an overwhelming experience for employees but with proper communication and cooperation, it is easy to overcome the re-entry anxiety.