July 16, 2021
by Andrew Beaumont
I recently had the privilege of meeting my local MP, Mark Pawsey, at my office in The Priory.
It’s not every day you get to speak to your MP, and in a Benedictine monastery of all places! It was a great opportunity to discuss the challenges businesses and their staff are facing as we continue into the fourth stage of the roadmap out of lockdown.
As recently announced by the Prime Minister, the UK will move to ‘Stage 4’ of the roadmap out of lockdown on 19 July. This means, amongst other things, all remaining businesses can reopen, face masks will no longer be mandatory in shops or on public transport (subject to local guidelines, i.e. TFL), the government will no longer require people to work from home and the ‘one metre-plus’ rule will be removed in almost all settings.
That’s right, it’s the news a lot of the country has been waiting for but as these changes come in to effect it’s important that employers and businesses continue to be aware of all the issues they, and their staff, will likely encounter.
First on the agenda during my discussion with Mark was the potential impact that lockdown has had on mental health.
Although a lot of people are counting down until 19thJuly, there are also a lot of people still feeling wary and unsure. If you’re an employer, this is the time to be checking in with your staff, ensuring they feel safe and make sure you are doing everything you can to keep them engaged.
Even if you’re excited to be getting your team back in the workplace, do not assume your team feel the same.
These changes are coming at the start of the summer holidays and if your employees are parents or guardians, they may have childcare concerns. Additionally, they may also just feel nervous about returning to a world of “normality” after so many months of restrictions and rules.
It’s up to you as the employer to ease their transition and support them every step of the way.
A recent survey found that almost every worker is apprehensive about some aspect of returning to work. The main concerns were about sharing office devices, social distancing, and cleanliness.
Open communication between employers and employees is essential if you have any hope of maintaining a good level of employee engagement, productivity, and retention as we come out of lockdown. However, as staff return to the workplace you should focus on encouraging a culture where employees can talk about their mental health and their concerns – not just during times of crisis but going forwards too.
Be proactive when it comes to addressing mental health within the workplace, rather than always having to be reactive. By regularly checking in and creating the space for these types of conversation you’re able to find solutions before things even become a problem.
Despite the hope and optimism of what 19th July will bring, employers in particular should proceed with caution.
Certain people haven’t stepped foot out of their homes since last March, never mind into the office or workplace. This extended period of isolation is bound to have an impact on not only their mental health but maybe even their productivity.
Remember this is a transition period. If staff don’t seem to be settling back into their roles or are having trouble carrying out their duties, talk to them. Don’t make assumptions or judgements.
If there’s ever been a time to cut people some slack, now will be it.
Now I’m not saying let your team get away with whatever they like, but just please make sure you communicate with your staff and look after them.
Together we will not only get through this but come out stronger the other side.
If you need any support with helping your staff out of lockdown or are feeling overwhelmed keeping up with the never-ending changes, just drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or pick up the phone (01788 228608), I am here to help.
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