Slowly but surely, lockdown is easing. And, as employees return to the workplace in greater numbers, it’s important to prepare for the challenges this will entail. As well as the necessity to provide a safe working environment, employers need to be prepared to deal with the concerns of the employees themselves. Preparing for ‘the new normal’ involves a great deal more than changes to physical infrastructure.
Aviva’s Life after lockdown guide helps employers make sure they’ve covered the practical aspects of returning to the workplace, with advice on measures such as a staggered entrance and exit, implementing one-way systems and what to do when the two-metre social distancing guidance is harder to maintain.
But just as importantly, it also considers the mental health of employees, some of whom may find the return to work more challenging than others. The new normal won’t be the same as the pre-lockdown version – and some members of staff will need plenty of reassurance that it’s safe for them to come back to the workplace. The guide offers advice on providing that reassurance – before, during and after a return-to-work phase
Five key points to consider:
- Read tips from experts – in addition to the information in Aviva’s guide, there’s a wealth of information on our Business Perspectives website.
- Get employees involved in decision making – they should be confident that any return to work has been carefully thought through, with full regard to their safety and feel like their family and other personal circumstances have been taken into account.
- Help employees stay connected through regular communication and an open workplace culture – inclusivity is key to helping an employee feel they’re returning to a safe and caring environment. Good communication starts before the return to work, so that employees feel confident the workplace is safe and know what’s expected of them.
- Ensure line managers hold regular conversations with employees to talk through any specific issues or individual concerns.
- Don’t rush things along. Returning to a working environment more like it was before can still be challenging and, for some people, overwhelming. For many employers, remote working will remain a good option for the business and its people – leaving the door open for a return to home-based working could be a big help to employees who feel they’re struggling to adapt.
If something’s not right: recognising the signs
It’s always important to recognise the signs that an employee may be suffering with their mental health, so you can be ready to help before it develops into a more serious issue. The guide contains information on how to do this. An individual’s GP is frequently the best first port of call for anyone affected, but it’s also worth considering setting up an employee assistance programme, offering access to counselling and other support.
Download the Life after lockdown guide