The effects of COVID-19 are endless. Its impact on mental health has been especially prominent. The end of mask mandates is one of the reasons many employees feel anxious to return to the office. In this episode of Yoh's Back to Work podcast series, Yoh UK’s Internal Recruitment Manager, Becky Harrowell and our host, Joe McIntyre, address these fears and social anxieties and discuss how employers can advocate for their employees' mental health in this new normal of work.
FOSTERING A CULTURE OF OPENNESS
Now more than ever, it’s crucial to be a well-rounded employer that prioritizes their team’s mental health. You want your employees to feel comfortable in their workspace and feel empowered to work to their fullest potential. Creating a safe space for employees to trust you and speak openly with you helps a team collaborate and function at its best. By actively listening and genuinely asking your employees how they are doing, you create an opportunity for them to let their guard down and speak freely.
As an employer, it is your role to maintain a safe work environment. Becky's UK team has adopted the hybrid model to ease people slowly into the office. She notes this gradual integration is key to safely bringing people back into the office. Alternatively, many employees have gotten used to working remotely, and returning to an office can be daunting.
A hybrid model is a way to provide flexibility for employees with varying degrees of social anxiety. With the employer's support, the office space becomes a place of camaraderie and valuable in-person interactions that are difficult to recreate virtually. Allowing your employees to have that space to catch up if they would like, maybe even meet for the first time, makes the new normal feel more achievable for everyone.
tips for conquering workplace anxieties
Becky notes that nothing is more powerful than talking about your anxieties and having someone listen to you. "Nothing can change unless people know how to help you," says Becky. Providing structure to your day can help eliminate uncertainty and help you feel accomplished in your work. Make time for the activities you enjoy, whether that be starting or ending your day with meditation, taking a walk, or connecting with your peers for lighthearted conversation.
For employers, practicing empathy is the most critical tactic for creating a comfortable workplace. Many people still suffer from the long-term effects of COVID, and it's essential to understand why some employees are more stressed about returning to office spaces. "People have had different experiences [with COVID], but ultimately we've all gone through it together," Becky remarks. Talking about that shared experience and finding solutions to ease the transition back to the office gradually is the best way an employer can support their employees.
Listen to the full podcast episode to discover more strategies for supporting employees' mental health and fostering a culture of openness in your workplace.