4 Ways to Appease Employees’ Pandemic Anxiety
Employees Pandemic Anxiety: After Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that work from home policies would officially be lifted on June 21st, employees are expected to return to full-time office work—whether they’re ready or not. A survey conducted by Personio found that UK employees were the most reluctant to return to the office as compared to the rest of Europe. Meanwhile, a 2021 remote workforce report shared by City A.M. noted that 40% of UK office workers were worried about catching COVID-19 from colleagues.
That said, what can employers do to aid their employees in such unprecedented times? Here are 4 ways to appease employees’ pandemic anxiety.
1. Promote An Open Line of Communication
As much as mental health discussions have become less taboo of late, a survey of over 1,000 respondents indicates that 54% are uncomfortable talking about stress with their supervisors. This can lead to pent-up emotions and red flags like depression, anxiety, and burnout going unnoticed.
Supervisors can prevent this by promoting an open-door policy between all team members. Let your employees know that you are available to listen to without judgement at any time. Show them you mean this by also opening up yourself. This proves that you genuinely want to foster a safe space rather than just providing lip service. If they’re more comfortable talking to an HR representative or talking as a group (whether that’s in-person or via e-mail), let them know there are avenues available to them.
2. Offer professional support
Hiring a professional can be a worthy endeavour for various reasons. First, they are better trained and experienced in dealing with sensitive topics that may extend past the professional workspace. Second, as mentioned in the BBC, sometimes it can be more comfortable opening up to a stranger rather than somebody you know.
The professionals that your team can benefit from are not just mental health therapists, either. They can also include yogis, meditation gurus, and fitness instructors. Everyone deals with stress differently, so offering a variety of mindfulness practices led by professionals will ensure everyone has an outlet. Remind your team that these initiatives as part of your employee assistance programme (EAP), so they don’t have to worry about any fees or subtractions from their salary.
3. Providing a healthy workstation
Safeguarding your employees continues well into their personal workstations. You may be surprised to know that stress and posture are tightly intertwined, and one can exacerbate the other. The NHS has said that stress causes the muscles to tense and the spine to stiffen. This in turn can cause sensitive joints, back pains, poor digestion, and difficulty breathing among many others.
A study by San Francisco University, on the other hand, illustrates how better posture improved mood and self-esteem. To improve your employees’ overall health (even when sitting), try providing them with ergonomic accessories. Pain-Free Working explains that an ergonomic chair, specifically, can even prevent complications like cervical spondylosis, carpal tunnel, and productivity dips. Aside from chairs, you could also look into split keyboards, desk converters, and other accessories that your employees can use to optimise their stations.
4. Invest in mindful office design
The design of your office can also influence your employees’ mental state. This doesn’t mean large-scale renovations, though. Instead, you can make small but impactful changes throughout your space. For instance, lighting has been proven to affect moods.
At The rTMS Centre, we’ve previously discussed how sunlight can help boost mental clarity as it decreases serotonin rates. If possible, re-organise your office setup to maximise such natural light sources. Otherwise, you could swap your harsh lightbulbs with warmer LEDs to prevent eye strain and disruption of the circadian rhythm. Of course, you should also create several sanitation stations that include educational materials on proper hygiene, safety standards, and the office’s disinfection protocol.
Employers can play a big part in relieving their employee’s uncertainties. By enacting new policies and initiatives that put employee wellbeing at the forefront, not only will office workers feel safer but also more value.
Written for rtmscentre.co.uk by Bella Rossum
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