Here’s what employers can do to allay employee fears in times of COVID

Organizations are slowly preparing to welcome their employees back to offices, albeit in a hybrid fashion for now. Since there is no well-developed scenario for this transition, the question is how to make workplaces fully operational while making them feel welcome and safe? How do organizations present themselves, feel and function differently?

Well, business leaders need to think about how it felt to come back to school after their summer vacation. There was perhaps excitement about meeting friends, nervousness as well as a feeling of worry about a new schedule. It was, certainly, a bittersweet mix of anticipation and nerves. Likewise, move forward quickly in the life of the company, amplify all of the above with an unprecedented break, an entirely but “not so normal” WFH schedule and a genuine concern for safety. This is probably what you will feel when employees start working from the desk again. Therefore, giving more importance to a warm welcome with an assurance of security must be more than ever the priority. Leaders need a well-defined plan that maintains security, manages resources, and restores workforce morale.

Here are some suggestions:

Being flexible is the key

It is perhaps not surprising that there are still government regulations and regulations depending on the region in which the professionals live. Therefore, it is very important to understand and be patient with employees who may need to extend their WFH status in case they do not. have the resources to return to the office on short notice. By being open to creativity, time management organizations can help build confidence in the work environment. Companies might even find that the flexibility of the approach contributes more to improving the productivity and overall positivity of the team.

Hygiene as a priority

If the office has designated facilities or booths, ensure that employees return to “welcome gifts” with clean and sanitized desks. There is nothing less welcoming than a confusing or messy workplace, especially if workers left shortly after the pandemic. Make health supplies accessible to everyone. Keep hand sanitizers at every office and share with workers how the organization is proceeding to remain cautious about preventing COVID-19. For example, setting up more incessant office cleanings or installing air purifiers.

More interactive sessions

It is obvious that after being locked inside the four walls of houses since the pandemic took the world by storm, professionals need quality time to bond with their team and revive their equations. This is why interactive sessions or team building exercises play an important role for workers who come back after months / years of working from their comfort zone. Businesses may find that when teammates are allowed to be more interactive, they do more work and also feel energized in the process. The interactive sessions and small celebrations every now and then are an amazing way to break the ice, boost morale, and foster understanding.

Numerous reports have also shown that the majority of employees cite unsuccessful communication and ineffective collaboration as the main reason for failures in the workplace. Therefore, if the traditional work environment did not approve of the idea of ​​socializing and chatting during working hours, these companies should now consider allowing these exercises with safety protocols in place since individuals are de return to the workplace.

Check employee mental health

The emotional and mental well-being of working professionals is a critical issue; therefore, companies need to keep it under control. Without a doubt, if an employee is mentally stressed, they will not be able to perform to the best of their ability. Appreciation and encouraging comments are necessary to keep the job stress-free, and therefore, positive reinforcement acts as a great method to rekindle the culture of the workplace. After all, employees are an organization’s greatest asset. Therefore, companies need to make sure that their employees can talk about anything that concerns them at all times. Sessions and support around emotional resilience and psychological safety should be continued.

Listen to employee issues

The most important thing is to let the employees speak out and listen to their issues, no matter what. Deploy an employee survey not only on their favorite work plans, but also on larger questions such as how the company can best support them. It is essential to recognize that the expectations of the workforce are changing and that redefining policies, practices and ways of working will go a long way in engaging the workforce.

(Sonica Aron is Founder and Managing Partner of the consulting firm Marching Sheep-HR)

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Posted on: Saturday October 09, 2021, 7:59 PM IST

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