An uncomfortable fact that we must acknowledge is that the pandemic has created trauma and grief on a massive scale. None of us have lived through anything like this before (and hopefully we never will again!)
What does this mean for your business? It means that you need to make a conscious effort to support your staff as the pandemic ends and beyond. Many of them will have struggled over the last year, including in ways that you can’t see and won’t necessarily know about.
Here are a few of our top tips to help you do right by your people.
Make Space for Complicated Feelings
Yes, many of us are overjoyed at starting to get “back to normal.” But many people also have conflicting and complex feelings about it. It’s best to avoid making assumptions and to make it clear that it’s okay for your team members to feel a multitude of emotions about what’s happening. Expecting unbridled positivity (even tacitly) can be really damaging to people who don’t feel completely positive about the changes.
Flexibility has been the name of the game for smart employers over the last year, and that flexibility must continue as we come out of the pandemic.
Do all roles really need to be based in the office? If someone greatly prefers working from home and is productive that way, why not allow them to continue being partially or fully remote? You might offer flexible working hours for people with children or other dependents, or be more generous in allowing time off for medical or family purposes.
Even small changes can make a big difference. One employee who is still nervous about using public transport told me that their employer is allowing them to flex their hours so they can travel at quieter, less crowded times.
Make Your Safety Protocols Clear
Will you ask staff to take a Lateral Flow Test twice per week, require mask-wearing in the office, put up screens between workstations, or only ask fully vaccinated staff members to return to the physical workplace? There are no easy answers and the specifics (beyond what is required by law) will be up to each business to navigate.
Whatever you decide, communicate it clearly to your team, customers, and any relevant third parties in plenty of time. If everyone is clear what you’re doing to keep them safe, they’ll feel much more secure about coming back to the physical office.
Ask Your Team for Their Input
We all have different levels of risk tolerance and different things that make us feel safe. You cannot know what helps your staff to feel safe unless you ask them. So allow everyone to have input on what precautions and protocols they would like as they start coming back to the office.
You’re not obligated to implement everything they ask for, but the more accommodating you can be, the more appreciated and looked after your staff members will feel.