How to Support Your Workers’ Mental Health as They Return to the Workplace
The last two and a half years have been tough on everyone. While many companies were able to pivot by having employees work from home, that may not be ideal or sustainable for every business, and now we are seeing more employers calling their workers back. While some of your employees will no doubt welcome being around their colleagues again, for others, this could be cause for anxiety.
Supporting your team’s mental health should be a key consideration as you bring your workers back into the workplace.
Factors to consider
- Your employees may have experienced changes in their mental health since the beginning of the pandemic. According to a survey conducted by the Centre of Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), a full third of respondents reported having moderate to severe anxiety about returning to their pre-pandemic activities.
- For some employees, the return to the workplace could trigger a variety of emotional responses. Some employees will be happy to finally be getting back to something they feel is normal, while others may be worried about exposing themselves or their loved ones to COVID-19. There could also be conflicts between employees who feel differently about masking or vaccination status.
- Flexibility is still necessary. Your employees are still facing a variety of pressures. They may have school-aged children they need to care for or have vulnerable loved ones they are trying to protect.
Providing a smooth transition back into the workplace
As an employer, there are a few things that you can do that may help minimize the stress of returning to work for your employees.
- Manage your expectations. Don’t expect that your employees can necessarily pick up right where they left off when they left the workplace. Transitioning back can take some time.
- Involve your employees in the transition. Select key individuals in your company to create a return to the workplace plan. Have them identify potential hazards and sources of anxiety and identify solutions. This could include a thorough cleaning of the workplace before your employees return, masking and capacity policies, etc.
- Implement a staged return. You don’t necessarily have to bring everyone at once. Consider bringing back the most essential employees first and gradually adding to that. With each new group of employees that you bring back to the workplace, you can look for any gaps in your plan or ways to improve the process.
- Communicate with your team. Let your employees know what your plan is for returning to the workplace and what measures will be in place to protect both their physical and mental health.
- Manage employees’ expectations. The workplace that your employees return to may be very different from the one they left before the pandemic. Be sure to let them know what is changing and why.
- Check-in with your employees after they return to the workplace. Even with all of your precautions, some members of your team may still feel stressed and anxious about returning. Be sure to do regular check-ins with them through meetings, individual conversations, surveys etc. to get their feedback and see how they are doing. And if you make a change based on their feedback, be sure to let them know.
Contact TeksMed today
By taking these factors into consideration, it can help to provide a smooth transition back into the workplace while supporting your team’s mental health. At TeksMed, we specialize in disability management and return to work programs. If your business requires assistance in this area, please contact us to learn how we can help.