Managing the Mental Health of Returning Employees

Managing the Mental Health of Returning Employees

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of daily life. Businesses are closed or have reduced capabilities, individuals are worried about their physical and financial safety, and no one knows when circumstances will improve. These and other factors illustrate the burdens individuals must endure during the pandemic. When businesses begin to reopen, employers must keep these factors in mind.

Reopening a business does not erase the hardship endured by its employees during its closure. Employees may still be grappling with mental health issues that can impact their performance when the doors reopen.

This article provides tips and considerations for employers that intend to reopen their businesses after the coronavirus pandemic. This guidance can help manage the mental health of returning employees.

Consider a Slow Open

Many employees had to be laid off or furloughed during the coronavirus pandemic. These individuals may need some time to re-acclimate to the work environment. Even remote employees who retained their positions may need time to readjust, having to now deal with regular commutes and professional appearance expectations.

Reopening slowly can give employees time to get back into their normal routines. Without this adjustment period, employees may experience emotional whiplash, since they must now suddenly deal with expectations they haven’t faced for weeks.

As such, employers should consider phases to their reopening. These may include bringing employees back in waves and gradually expanding operational hours back to normal. This gradual reopening can give employees the time they need to properly bring their bodies and minds back to work.

Think About Caregivers

The coronavirus pandemic inadvertently turned thousands of employees into full-time caregivers in just a few short weeks, with nursing homes, daycares and schools closing down. Many of these employees will retain these caregiving duties even when businesses reopen.

Employers should understand that some employees may have caregiving responsibilities that impact their mental health. Flexible scheduling can be a small perk that makes a big difference. Employers can help relieve some of the caregiving burden by allowing employees to move their schedules around, accomplishing job functions on their own time or during core work hours. This ensures the employee can maintain their personal responsibilities while still getting their professional work done.

Offering such a perk can also make an employer more attractive to working parents who may prize flexibility over many other workplace incentives.

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