How to combat post-lockdown anxiety in your workplace

With details of UK’s roadmap out of lockdown released, Nicola Jagielski, Associate Director Clinical Services at Health Assured, looks at how employers can support staff with anxiety about returning to the office.

Return to Work Anxiety

How can you support staff who are nervous about returning to the workplace?

The government's roadmap out of lockdown was announced last week. For many, the easing of lockdown brings excitement, however for others the prospect of work life returning to normal will cause concern.

There are many genuine reasons why staff may feel nervous about returning to the workplace and it’s important that employers take extra steps to support their employees. Here are just some ways businesses can support staff over the coming months: 

1. Communication

If a staff member feels anxious about returning to the workplace, they might not feel comfortable talking about their worries with their managers. Employers should encourage an open culture where employees feel able to speak openly and confidentially about their worries. Reassurances could be all anxious staff need.

This openness will also spill over into other aspects of the business. When people feel they can speak freely about concerns or difficulties, solutions can be found easier.

2. Flexible working

Flexible working has been essential for businesses during the pandemic and allowing the likes of flexible hours and remote working to stay post-lockdown could be an important part of ensuring your employees feel reassured. Many employees will have found working from home beneficial and it could be a good time to implement aspects of it permanently, depending on your business needs. After all, if someone has found a way of working that is more productive to them and the business while working remotely, then why change?

It should be noted, however, that some staff may wish to return to the office for personal or security reasons. Offer staggered start and end times for people in this situation to show that you are continuing to support those returning to the office.

3. Mindfulness

If employees are having difficulty and facing anxiety about returning to the office, practising mindfulness at home and at work is a proven way to relax and fend off those anxious feelings. Participating in light exercise, even just a lunchtime walk around a nearby park will help them physically and mentally. Remember, if you're struggling and you find a way to ease that for yourself, talk about it. Leadership is in part about providing an example.

4. Resources

If your organisation has an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), this is a perfect tool in combating anxiety in the workplace. It offers access to free, confidential counselling and is the ideal solution to mental health issues at work. So much so, it's been proven to reduce workplace stress by as much as 35 per cent. 

About the author

Nicola Jagielski, Associate Director Clinical Services at Health Assured, a health and wellbeing provider who offer employee assistance programmes (EAPs) to employers from organisations of all sizes in the private, public and non-profit sectors.

See also

What are the benefits of an employee assistance programme (EAP)?

What is flexible working?

Gender pay gap reporting: what employers need to know in 2021

Working from home: what are the pros and cons for your business?

Image: Getty Images

Publication date: 8 March 2021

Any opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and the author alone, and does not necessarily represent that of The Gazette.