Encouraging resilience in a post pandemic workplace

2nd June 2021

It has been widely reported that the pandemic, alongside the government measures such as lockdown and social distancing taken by the government to control it, have had a significant impact upon the mental health of some employees.

Employers have a ‘duty of care’ to their employees, which means they must do all they reasonably can to support their employees’ health, safety and wellbeing. This includes making sure the working environment is safe which is especially the case when employees are returning to work following lockdown. This duty of care covers not only physical health, safety and wellbeing but also mental health, safety and wellbeing.

In this blog we’ll take a look at some key areas to consider when employees are returning to work and will offer some tips on how to re-engage with your teams.

A mixture of feelings and emotions

People will have experienced the pandemic and the lockdown in different ways. Some may have found that it has provided space to be creative and innovative and have spent time connecting with people in a variety of virtual ways. Others may have found it difficult to cope, they may have felt isolated and claustrophobic and disconnected from the world and from others. Everyone’s experience will be unique to them.

Returning to work

When people come back into the workplace they may be bringing the feelings and emotions that are linked to their experiences of the pandemic with them. Some people maybe can’t wait to go back to work, some may be anxious and scared, some may take it in their stride.

It’s important to think about what concerns people may be having about coming back to work, so you can help them reassimilate and help calm some of their fears and anxieties.  Some things that might be worrying people coming back into the workplace are concerns about workplace safety and questions about changes in working hours to help the organisation catch up?

Whilst people may have experienced lockdown differently, there will also be a range of feelings about reconnecting with the workplace.

Take notice

When people come back to work, employers need to be vigilant and ensure that they offer support to employees who may be finding it hard to readjust back to the workplace.

It is important to notice the signs which may indicate that someone is finding it hard to cope:

These may be physical and psychological signs such as difficulty in concentrating; showing irritability or excessive negativity; or being overly tired whilst at work.  Or they may be job/work specific such as being unable to achieve what is reasonably expected; a drop in productivity; undervaluing the work of colleagues or strained working relationships.

The 4Rs; and developing the new resilience

As we navigate the “new normal” and we start to adapt workplaces post-COVID, it is important that we not only plan for the future but also take time considering the experiences we have all been through.

There may be questions that are keeping you awake at night such as how do we transition into the new normal, what have we learned over the last few months and how do we most effectively support people through yet another period of transition and uncertainty.  The 4R approach is a framework that will help you with this thinking.

Be inclusive

When following the 4R approach below it is important that an inclusive approach is taken.

Everybody’s views and experiences are valid; therefore, it is important to involve all sections of the workforce and create opportunities for people to share their thoughts, suggestions and concerns.

Reflect

We need to create time to reflect on the last year and a half and appreciate the experiences of all stakeholders, employees, customers and clients, the communities in which we operate.

The reflection must be purposeful and positively orientated.  It is about helping us explore our thoughts, feelings and experiences to help us adapt and cope for the future.

Review

We now need to review what has worked well and what hasn’t worked as well as we had expected or hoped.  The review process could be carried out individually.  However, with teams it may be worthwhile considering how you could reflect as a team (whilst adhering to social distancing rules) with someone acting as a facilitator and scribe.

Think about the following:

  • What has worked well?
  • What hasn’t worked well?
  • From a work perspective, what have we missed the most?
  • What haven’t we missed?
  • What do we need to celebrate?
  • What do we need to start doing or stop doing?
  • What should we keep on doing?

What should we be keeping the same and what should we be changing?

Reconnect

We need to think about how we are going to reconnect with other parts of the organisation and reconnect with our clients, customers and key stakeholders.

Reboot

The aim is to reboot the business or organisation.  However, this is also an opportunity to improve, to be different and to be creative. There may be opportunities to be innovative in ways of working, to develop new products and services; and to build new relationships and make new contacts.

If we create space and time for people and teams to work together, to learn from each other and to have real conversations we can reboot our organisations.

For more information on our Managers Lockdown Toolkit – Future Ways of Working eLearning module contact us now.

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