Organizing a safe return to the workplace and managing reentry anxiety are top priorities for businesses planning in 2021. However, planning alone won’t be enough.
In a Weber Shandwick survey, just 6% of workers in the U.S. said they’ll feel safe going back to work when their employer says it’s safe.
Along with making sure the workplace is safe, businesses must think about how to ensure their teams’ wellbeing. This article will explore how businesses can manage workplace reentry anxiety while keeping employees and visitors safe.
1. Prioritize Employee Wellbeing
COVID-19 has emphasized the importance of looking after employees’ wellbeing, especially in a mental health sense.
Businesses will need to put together an effective mental health policy and be prepared to provide team members with links to potentially-useful contacts on both a local and national level.
Encourage taking breaks too. For example, try making it mandatory for everyone to eat lunch away from their desks. Rearrange the cafeteria and social gathering areas so everyone can build a sense of togetherness from a safe social distance, instead of being siloed at their desks.
2. Be Transparent with Sharing Timely and Accurate Updates
After reopening your doors, continue providing regular updates.
McKinsey & Co. published a piece about engaging employees in the workplace in which they discussed the importance of “clear and inspiring communication”. Recommendations included:
- Regular employee surveys
- Soliciting feedback frequently
- Making return processes transparent
Ways to ensure your updates are timely and accurate include:
- Setting aside time each week to meet as a company. Schedule 30-60 minutes where executives provide an update on what has happened and for employees to share their concerns.
- Making it clear how you will approach each stage of the reopening process. Set precise dates for when people can expect a new announcement and what you will discuss.
- Being honest. Chances are, you don’t know everything at the moment. Communicate what you can and let employees know when you expect to have more information.
3. Implement Contactless Solutions for Onsite Safety and Security
According to CBS News, a single infected door handle could infect between 40% and 60% of your workplace.
Contactless solutions, such as digital sign-in tools, will be essential in addressing your employees’ concerns. For example, you can use a visitor management system with contactless sign-in features to ensure your workplace is safe and secure. Since you’ll know who’s on-site at all times, this also ensures regulatory compliance.
Digital NDAs and visitor agreements will also be necessary for stopping multiple hands from touching the same surface. Replacing contracts and visitor books with digital contactless alternatives will also streamline your business processes and enhance company branding by giving visitors a great first impression.
4. Train Business Leaders to Support Employees
In a McKinsey & Co. survey, 77% of employees said leaders gave them enough information needed to plan and adjust. Moreover, 80% believe their leaders have been proactive in protecting their health and safety. Training is essential for continuing to meet employee needs.
Leaders can make their efforts sustainable by:
- Tailoring approaches. Get creative with analytics and technology and listen to everyone’s individual needs.
- Promoting inclusion and harmony. Reassure team members that they have the freedom to experiment and share their opinions.
- Investing in relationships. Focus on tackling big business problems with cross-department collaboration, as well as developing relationships between employees.
5. Act Swiftly in Responding to New Public Health Measures
The pandemic situation is ever-changing, and organizations must act fast on new government advice.
As this report by EY mentions, planning during a pandemic is much different from typical contingency planning. You may need to revert to remote working again or limit how many people can be on-site quickly.
As government regulations change, communicate and implement any necessary changes as soon as possible. If you need to improve your health and safety measures, let employees know how you’re proceeding and the ways you expect them to help. If you need to reduce the number of people in your office, prioritize staff whose physical presence is essential.
6. Be Flexible
Despite talk of in-office jobs dying out, Slack found that 72% of employees want a ‘hybrid’ agreement involving both remote and in-office work. Flexibility will be vital to cater to employees who aren’t yet ready to return and those who need time off to either recover from illness or care for someone else.
Besides letting employees work from home on certain days of the week, consider letting them choose their hours. As long as they can attend to their responsibilities, trust them to know when they’re most productive and let them fit work around their personal lives.
Aside from addressing anxiety when returning to work, flexibility will also keep your employees happy, thereby improving productivity.
7. Oversee Routine Contact Tracing
4 in 10 COVID-19 transmissions occur before the carrier develops symptoms. To protect your employees and reduce anxiety, you must perform immediate and aggressive contact tracing when any infections crop up.
Contract tracing works by asking an infected person who they’ve come in close contact with and contacting them. They take a test and, if positive, self-isolate.
Contact tracing efforts are much easier if utilizing a visitor management system, especially one that can double as an employee in-out board. This will keep track of all visitors and employees that are in the office at any given time and make identifying individuals who have come in contact with an infected person much easier.
Reduce Reentry Anxiety
Some of your employees will be anxious about reentering the workplace after the pandemic and it’s important to show them empathy. Business leaders must create a cohesive and inclusive environment, and provide mental health services and guidance.
Keeping everyone safe is a top priority. Digital sign-in solutions can help reduce workplace reentry anxiety by showing your employees you are doing everything you can to ensure a safe and healthy workplace, and supporting their wellbeing.