iT1 Resources

The Great Return: Making Staff Feel Safe And Supported In Office

Forget the great resignation, we are now in the midst of the great return. As employers make plans to bring staff back into the office, they’re going to need to focus on more than just logistics.

The mental and physical shock of re-entry is real, with 52% of workers worldwide voicing some anxieties about the change. If you expect staff to be as productive and engaged as they were while working from home, make sure you have a plan in place to support them in these ways.

1. Ensure their health and safety is your #1 priority.

According to Lee Daniels, Head of Workforce, EMEA and UK at JLL, at least 55% of the workforce is concerned about the risk of COVID-19 infections spreading in the office. To put their minds at ease, start by ramping up your cleaning and hygiene protocols. These measures should include things employees can see ‚Äì like bringing in a crew to clean midday or putting up wayfinding signage to dissuade crowding ‚Äì as well as things they can’t. (Think: changing the air filters more frequently or putting in a new air purification system. Not sure what would make your staff feel most safe? Ask them! Getting their feedback about things they‚Äôd like to see implemented (plexiglass between desks? flexible working schedules? outdoor work spaces?) can be a great confidence and morale booster.

2. Put a spotlight on their mental health.

Stress levels are higher than they’ve ever been. For a multitude of reasons, many of our mental health capacities are stretched thin. Make sure employees know they’re coming back to a supportive office that’s sensitive to their concerns and struggles. You want to foster an environment of encouragement and safety, one where they feel they can be honest about all they may be experiencing. You may choose to implement dedicated group meditation sessions or connect employees with a designated mental health professional at no cost to them too.

3. Prioritize healthy routines and a healthy work-life balance.

While many employees appreciate the flexibility of remote work in achieving a work/life balance, fewer than four in ten feel there’s the same support for healthy routines in the office – one third of employees don’t have access to any health and well-being amenities, between 60 and 70 percent of those that do will use them on a weekly basis. If you don’t have the budget to cater healthy meals daily, can you give them a coupon for food delivery once a week? If your current office space doesn’t have a gym, consider giving staff a monthly or yearly health credit they can use on the fitness activity of their choice. If nothing else, consider meetingless Mondays to give them the headspace to focus on their most pressing personal and professional needs.

4. Show your appreciation.

A recent report from Indeed found that employee burnout is on the rise: 52% of all workers are feeling burned out, up +9% from a pre-COVID survey. Recognition is a great antidote. Receiving positive feedback at work has been shown to improve productivity, increase innovation, encourage mental wellbeing, and make employees more satisfied at their jobs. Paid time off, bonuses, and gifts or gift cards are all great ways to say, “thanks!”

5. Keep employees connected.

In this age of isolation, reconnecting with colleagues and coworkers can be a welcomed relief from the past two years. If you haven’t already, give your workplace culture a closer look. See where you can introduce social events and opportunities for collaboration. These activities don’t have to be strictly work-related either. Why not take a cue from “The Office” and establish a party planning committee (Surely you have an Angela, Pam and Phyllis willing to volunteer) to officially welcome everyone back or celebrate office birthdays each month? Whichever methods you choose, remember: transition can be uncomfortable. The more intention you bring to the process, the better off you and your team will be.

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