Back to the Office? Here’s How to Ease into the New Normal
Promoting a strong feeling of wellbeing among your employees should always be a priority. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, this may have taken a back seat, but as we return to work, it’s more important than ever. Employers are easing employees back into an environment that may be very different from the one they inhabited previously, and this comes with challenges. In these unprecedented times, focusing on employee wellness can be the difference between a productive workforce and one that’s stressed and distracted.
To help everyone navigate the new normal there are several safeguards that can be put into place. By adapting or updating your company’s wellness program, you can make allowance for the way the world has irrevocably changed.
1. Remind Employees Of Available Resources
Most companies will already have some kind of wellness program in place. If not, now’s the time to implement one. If you have an existing program, remind your employees about how they can make use of it, and if you have just implemented one, educate them as to what it offers. It’s important to have a full document of all the available resources and exactly how they support each employee.
You can send out regular reminders in an email or talk about the avenues of support available in meetings. Make sure that it’s easy for people to reach out and get the help they need. Wherever possible try and enforce the fact that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, and that taking advantage of assistance is encouraged.
2. Provide Emotional Support
There’s a lot of fear and anxiety in the world at present. The unknown is one of the scariest things, and we’re faced with a large amount of that thanks to the impact of the coronavirus. Many people will have found their personal situations have changed significantly and employers can lend support if they are aware of newly-faced challenges.
Reach out to your employees individually and let them know you are there for them and want to know what has changed in their lives. If you feel they need more help than you can provide, consider encouraging them to speak to a professional therapist. Don’t neglect your own needs either, no one is immune to the lifestyle effects of a pandemic. Getting emotional support is something that will help everyone, no matter what position they are in.
3. Promote Physical Health
Making sure you’re physically fit and healthy is one of the biggest and best methods in fighting the coronavirus. Look into getting health and medical professionals to give your employees talks via videoconferencing about how best to stay in shape and what foods they should eat to boost their immune system.
You could even try and implement some of the advice in the office. Once a week, provide lunch for everyone that includes the healthy ingredients recommended. Additionally, you could offer yoga training, meditation sessions or gym classes via videoconferencing on the weekends or after hours, encouraging everyone to workout at home.
4. Look For Ways To Help Financially
When our finances take a knock, it can be one of the most stressful situations we have to face. The uncertainty over the global economy is taking its toll on many investment funds and retirement plans. Offering your employees financial counseling from an expert is one way to help alleviate this stress.
Now is the time to be open and honest with your employees about where the company is financially. If you had to shut during lockdown or the bulk of your clients have been hit hard, your business may be on shaky ground. This adds hugely to the anxiety for everyone who works for your business (including you). Letting your employees know that their jobs are secure or how you are fighting to ensure you stay afloat will certainly lower stress levels.
5. Allow More Flexibility In Work Hours
This goes back to point two about how things have changed for so many people. Your employees may suddenly have children at home who would usually be at school. They may be responsible for assisting elderly family members who are worried about going out due to their age or a recognized co-morbidity. There could be any number of new elements impacting their lives.
If at all possible, allowing your employees a little bit more flexibility in their working hours will go a long way to alleviating concerns. Many companies have now proven to themselves that they can operate remotely successfully, and don’t need everyone in the office from 9 to 5. Consider staggering the hours that people come in or allowing them to alternate between working from home and the office.
6. Provide Training For Online Tools
When the coronavirus started spreading rapidly and cities started going into lockdown, there wasn’t much time to think about how to work or live remotely. For many of us, it was a trial by fire and a lot has probably been missed in terms of collaboration tools for online working. Now that people are going back to the office, you can take some time to do some training on these various tools.
Actively teaching your employees the full feature list and how to use online tools will ensure that you get the most out of their time working. This will give you peace of mind to allow your employees that flexibility in working hours or the opportunity to work remotely more often. You’ll also all be ready to handle things should your region experience another spike in infection rates and need to go back to a lockdown or quarantine period.
We all have to navigate the new normal and if we do it with kindness, compassion and honesty, being back at work will be so much easier on everyone involved. A happy workforce is a productive one, so keep this in mind when considering how to face the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
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