3 Ways to Help Employees Overcome the Return-to-work Anxiety

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Employees Overcome the Return-to-work Anxiety

As many organisations are planning to reopen offices across the world, few employees are stressed about returning back to in-person work. Concerns surrounding the ongoing covid-19 pandemic have developed a dilemma for the workforce: return to work and possibly risk the health of their near and dear ones, employee covid vaccination, financial stability, caretaking responsibilities and more. Maybe people have figured that they’re much happier and productive working from home, or perhaps they are glad that they don’t have to endure the long commute stress. 

Companies are already beginning to see problems around recruitment and retention as they are in talks of calling employees back to the office. Many employees shifted locations during the peak pandemic times and hence, are not comfortable adapting to the work-from-office model. Others are preferring to work for companies that are willing to support the hybrid workplace model. 

It is important for the HRs and managers to collaborate and try to make the return to the office for the employees positive if they want to retain top talent. 

Here’s how you can help your employees overcome the return-to-work anxiety: 


1. Offer flexibility 

If possible, when you plan to reopen the office, create HR policies for your hybrid workforce. Giving people some flexibility around when and how often they come in, at least at the beginning of reopening can help employees adapt better to the return-to-work model, especially when everyone has been through a lot since the pandemic hit the world. We don’t know how traumatizing it was for the people. 

By being flexible you will also send the message of kindness and compassion for your workforce out loud. Also, a sudden 360-degree shift in the way of working might also hamper productivity and the hybrid workforce might end up looking for work-from-home options elsewhere. According to recent survey findings published by HBR, 58% of employees say they would not mind looking for a new job if they weren’t allowed to continue working from home in their current position. Out of more than 2,000 survey participants, 65% of people want to work remotely full-time and another 33% would prefer an arrangement for a hybrid workforce

Forcing the return to the office might impact your workforce negatively, resulting in loss of motivation to work and an increase in stress, which might affect employee productivity and the trust employees have in you as an organization. 


2. Employee Covid Vaccination

Health and well-being is one of the major concerns of the workforce today. Hence, it is important to develop an employee covid vaccination policy. By including this policy in your existing HR policies you can ensure employees a safe return to the office. This can be done in two ways:


Organize a Free Employee Covid Vaccination Drive

The ideal way to support your employee covid vaccination policy is by organizing a vaccination drive for your employees. You can collaborate with hospitals for this. Have a system in place where you can keep a track of how many employees opted for the vaccination arranged by your organization and keep your workforce informed about the status of the same. By sharing this information you can assure employees who have major concerns around their well-being in times of covid. 


Employee Covid Vaccination Proof

Some employees might not choose to be a part of the employee covid vaccination drive arranged by your company, maybe because of the location, it would be conducted at. In such a scenario, you must make it mandatory for such employees to share proof of covid jab they have taken from anywhere else.

HROne launched a free covid vaccination drive for its employees in association with Jaypee Hospital.


3. Find out how your employees are feeling

All this will be easier to navigate through if you are aware of how your employees feel. Also, don’t assume that your workforce would be comfortable sharing if they’re feeling anxious about returning to the office. Thus ensure, you make it safe for your employees to speak up. Try using anonymous surveys (only if your team is large enough). Once you have the insights, make sure that you communicate and address their concerns, collectively. Post which you can work smoothly on HR policies concerning employee’s return to work. 

One example of employee survey insights could be: Many employees mention health considerations. So, it is your prerogative to let your team know what precautions your organization is taking to ensure staff safety.

Another example could be: Employees who prefer to work from home since they believe that they are able to focus better and be more productive. In such a case, you can talk to your team on how to minimize distractions, irrespective of the place they work from. 

The point is to make your employees feel heard. 

With HROne HR software, you can leverage pulse surveys to find out how your employees feel about returning to the office. 

Summary

Ask – how your employees are feeling about returning to the office, so that you can directly respond to their concerns

Adopt a flexible mode of working for your hybrid workforce, at least in the beginning

Be kind and compassionate to your employees

When framing HR policies concerning return to the office, ensure that they are developed keeping in mind both employees’ concerns and your organizations’ present and future goals   

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Sukriti Saini

Sukriti Saini works as a content marketing strategist at HROne. She has done Bachelors in Journalism from Delhi University and carries several years of experience in content development. HR trends, Productivity, Performance and topics related to Employee Engagement garner most of her writing interest here. During leisure, she loves to write and talk about fashion, food & life.

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