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Steps in supporting your workers back to the workplace

The trials and tribulations our world has been through the past few years have taken a toll on mental health. Learning new ways to adapt to a changing world with reoccurring public health rules, and remote working has caused a lot of people to become uncertain about their current and future situations.

There’ll be a time when your workforce is due to return to the business. Whether it’s already occurred for a day here-or-there, or the transition is coming up soon, you may find some hesitant workers or some that are eager to return.  Overall, it’s best to acknowledge their headspace about returning to the workplace.

How can employers offer a supportive return to the office?  Well, try integrating these steps into your overall workplace return strategy.

  1. Communication is key. Without stating the obvious, more transparency and understanding of what is expected in the return to the workplace is pivotal. Set expectations and follow-through. Be open with policy and procedures in place to ensure everyone is working in a COVID safe environment. Consider COVID testing practices to help keep the worksite virus-free.
  1. Listen to feedback. You may have some workers who do not want to return at all. Of course, they’ll carry out their work as they have since working offsite. But you must listen to their concerns and be authentic with your response. Discuss with them the importance of exiting isolation and how re-engaging with their work colleagues face-to-face will offer benefits to their mental health.
  1. Introduce a balance of workplaces. For some employers, their workers may have been working-from-home since the start of the pandemic. For others, it may have been several months. It doesn’t matter the time of setting up the workstation outside of the business, it’s the routine that has been established and that has been accustomed to.

Some workers will want to continue to work from home as it’s their new normal and the thought of changing their schedule may be daunting. Others may be gung ho in the beginning and then crash and burn from the sudden routine change.

So, it’s best to transition between the home and business with a couple of days at each location. After some time, gradually increase the number of days back in the business’s worksite.

  1. Offer guidance on best practices for the return. To adjust the work style back to pre-COVID days, suggest tips to your employees in establishing a healthy and positive routine adjustment. For some workers returning to the worksite may feel like a new job. Recommend they have a few good nights sleeps in a row, drive past the worksite to be familiar with where to go, ensure a lunch break is taken, bring in a piece from home such as photo or plant to provide a little comfort, organise a morning tea to gather the team together. These small suggestions can go a long way to reduce stress and anxiety in those uneasy at returning.
  1. Workplace Mental Health Policy and EAP reminder. Redistribute your business’s Mental Health Policy and Procedures, and your Employee Assistance Program. This will showcase the business’s wellness support package and care factor for employees. Ensure the support lines and contacts are readily available.

They say habits can take up to 66 days to change, so give it time and look for a gradual process. The desired outcome will be achieved if a strategy is in place and followed through.

Don’t forget these steps can also be implemented with yourself, even the top-down can experience the concerning feelings of changing a routine. Looking after yourself and your employees will encourage a healthy and favourable workplace.

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