The Return to Work is coming, and at least 2 in 5 of us are anxious about returning to the physical workplace according to a recent CIPD poll. Questions around transport safety, work flexibility, home responsibilities and what workplaces will be like are playing up in all our minds.
For the return to work transition to be a success, there are a few things HR teams can do to help their people regain comfort with these impending big changes.
Having a written return to work policy is only the tip of the iceberg. Starting now, teams need clear communication and reassurance from HR and management. Cushy welcome back messages simply won’t cut it. It’s important that every person feels emotionally safe enough to raise their concerns and ask for support. HR and management that seek (and address) team input prior to the rollout of return to work programmes will experience the smoothest of transitions.
Flexibility will be paramount on the path back to normalcy. It will take some longer than others—particularly those vulnerable to COVID or caring for children or family members–to acclimate to post-pandemic workplaces. The pandemic has been a difficult, life-altering time for us all. Many are experiencing and living with anxiety for the first time. After a year of socially isolated living, it will take time to ease back into ‘normal’ work commutes, social situations and in-office working. Flexible working and wellbeing support is needed to make the return to work less stressful and anxiety inducing for all.
Offer Practical Support
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to address the needs of every employee during this transition. For someone who’s lived alone during the lockdown, commuting at peak times may simply be too much, while a working parent of young children might struggle to balance childcare with set work schedules. A dynamic offering of flexible working options, and practical programmes and tools to support work-life balance is essential.
We can all take comfort in the fact that everyone around us is going through the same transition at the same time. Now is the time to reach out to old colleagues and stay current with HR networks as normalcy is slowly restored. Connect with others in the same boat in our “Future of HR” LinkedIn community. What’s been helpful to your organisation during this period?