When the world changed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, most people never imagined that it would last more than a year. Employees rapidly had to adjust to remote work and employers scrambled to find resources that would maintain productivity and support their employees. Without much guidance at all, employers had to design processes and procedures that would work for their business’s unique needs.
The transition was stressful for many employees as they watched the unemployment rate in the U.S. increase to numbers not seen since the great depression. The sense of security employees may have once felt, was suddenly gone. Compound that insecurity with the challenges of balancing work life and home life all while doing their best to keep themselves and their loved ones safe and healthy, and it is no wonder that many employees report a decline in their mental health. According to a Qualtrics study, 42% of employees said that their mental health has declined since the start of the pandemic.
As employers begin to transition their employees back into the workplace, employees are still uneasy. According to a new report released by the Limeade Institute, a whopping 100% of employees say that they are anxious about returning to the workplace. They cite exposure to COVID-19, less flexibility and commuting to work as their top concerns. Dr. Reetu Sandhu, Director of the Limeade Institute, gives some key insight on how employers can take this opportunity to deepen their relationship with their employees and possibly improve the post-pandemic workplace. Dr. Sandhu suggests bringing employees into to transition process by surveying them to gather information on how the workplace can help them work better and take better care of themselves. The bottom line, if you value your employees’ mental health and well-being, it is important to include them in the conversation.
Ways to Support Employees’ Mental Health
Some employers, however, don’t know where to start when it comes to supporting their employees’ mental health. Liane Hornsey, EVP & Chief People Officer at Palo Alto Networks, offers some ways employers can support employees’ mental health and wellbeing. Hornsey suggests 4 key areas of focus.
- Stability. Set clear expectations on what the post-pandemic workplace will look like and the steps that will be taken to ensure safety and security. Offer the option for employees to continue to work remotely if possible and invest in wellness programs and initiatives.
- Inclusion. Employers who take action on diversity and inclusion in the workplace will likely benefit from more satisfied employees.
- Trust. Establish a company culture where employees feel seen and heard. Develop programs where employees can express their concerns or their desire to grow and advance in their careers. Have managers conduct periodic wellness meetings with employees.
- Contribution. It is important to give back to and invest in what matters most to employees. Offer training and development opportunities, reward employees for a job well done or donate to a local charity or cause.
Fostering a workplace culture where employees feel supported and heard is a great first step in calming the anxiety and fear many may feel returning to the office. What additional ways can employers help employees manage the transition? We want to know your thoughts. Comment below.
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