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Be Supportive (Getting Back to Work 7/10)


The return to work is weighing heavily on the minds of workers across the nation, but it may be the least of the anxiety-inducing worries that workers are facing. Among the litany of things that keep us all up at night: people in the United States are facing rising COVID-19 cases, an end to federal unemployment, and no one knows how or when our children are returning to school.

We, as leaders, need not only be aware of the stresses that our workers are facing, we also need to proactively engage and create supportive environments designed to get them through it. While we cannot solve everything, there are a few things that are within our control.

Support comes in many different forms. In our previous blog entries, we’ve discussed the need for empathy and communication.  These cornerstone elements, along with creating a sense of unity, providing a safe environment, and a clear path forward help set the tone to properly support your employees.

During the crisis, your space may or may not have had employees in it. It is important to acknowledge that many employees did not have the opportunity to work from home while others did, and both may be facing different challenges. Make sure you equally support the reintegration of those who had to continue working in the office, along with those who were permitted to work from home.

According to the US Chamber of Commerce, there are 5 important factors to consider as additional areas of support for returning team members as your organization evaluates what it is able to do:

1. Childcare

With the uncertainty of if and when childcare centers and schools are opening, childcare remains front of mind for a lot of parents. While your organization may not have the resources to assist employees in providing or procuring childcare, you can offer flexible scheduling. This can be done with shifting hours or a hybrid work schedule that involves partially working from home. At minimum, providing information for local resources can help employees know you care. Some general information on how workers can get to solutions that work for them can be found here. Above all, approach childcare with an empathetic ear and whatever support you can provide. Make sure that you provide whatever childcare assistance equitably.

2. Enhanced Sanitation and Social Distancing Accommodations

Whether employees have been in the workspace or not, the introduction of new employees will surely make everyone uncomfortable. We’ve already written about both of these. Communicate all precautions that are being taken, prepare to address common area safety precautions, and support your employees through the reintegration process by addressing whatever concerns they have with as much action as possible.

3. Home Offices

If your organization can thrive efficiently with increased work from home, understand everyone may not have designated work spaces at home and the financial pressures may add to their concerns. Consider paying for home office furniture. One option might be to set an allowance for each person working from home, with which they can purchase an ergonomic chair, a standing desk, or other home equipment. Be creative. A small investment here will go a long way in long-term productivity.

4. Mental and Emotional Support

Consider adding mental health benefits to your health plan or subsidizing co-pays to help employees get the professional support that they need during this stressful time. You may also want to coordinate bringing in an expert to talk to your team about issues they may be facing.

5. Staggered Shifts

In order to alleviate congestion in your space, consider staggering shifts. If your space cannot comfortably accommodate your entire workforce, staggering shifts could include having workers come in on alternate days or having AM and PM workers.

However you support your workforce, this is an integral step to ensure that your workforce feels comfortable returning to work. If you find yourself needing support through this process, Intelligent Partnerships is here to help.

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