It’s not just about Covid-19 safety
Many employers will be reassuring staff that it is safe to return to the workplace by highlighting measures taken to prevent the spread of Covid-19. However, returning to the workplace is not just about feeling secure about Covid-19 risks. The psychological impact, and therefore the support needed to return to the workplace, is increasing by the day. Research into other types of leave tells us that the longer the leave period persists, the greater the likelihood an individual does not have a successful return to the workplace.
It can be difficult for the returner to get time to think and pinpoint exactly what’s holding them back from feeling ready. Executive coach, Lisa Carver from Surrey, UK, has a developed a model that helps the returner to assess themselves and identify their areas of confidence and weakness.
The model provides a starting point for discussions, taking actions, defining goals and further self-development. Each segment on the wheel represents a cluster of common issues or barriers which might be relevant (or not), to the returner. It focusses on the psychological barriers and areas outside of the workplace which support a successful return. It is relevant for furloughed staff or for those ‘working from home’ who are contemplating a return to the workplace. The model can be emailed to the employee to work through, or embedded onto your intranet so that your organisation can capture the data. Email Lisa to find out more.
“…I am normally a very positive person, but the current situation has had an effect on my confidence, ego, self belief. I hadn’t really taken the time to stop and think about this – therefore this has been a helpful tool. I am normally very positive, therefore, I am going to rescore on my return and see if there is any difference. ”
“In regards to the exercise, I respond well to these types of practices; I find reflection helps me to develop plans to move forward…I will take the time to ponder how I can improve my personal scores and ascertain what would help me to progress to a higher level.”
How to start discussions
Employers need to tread carefully with discussions about returning to the workplace in any guise. Discussions should be empathetic and occur on a one-to-one level.
They should allow the employee to highlight their barriers and plan a gradual return which feels comfortable; it’s a personal journey. Dissemination of forceful company policies to everyone is likely to evoke a negative response and spur on a pack mentality with ‘us against them’. There is no doubt that effectively supporting people through personal change and turbulence produces a high trust culture which in turn will maximise employee engagement and success throughout the organisation. This tool could be the key to starting a productive and engaged reintegration for your team.
Benefits of returning to the workplace
Many people are working successfully from home and therefore questions will be raised around why a return to the workplace is important? Whilst some people might function well working remotely, for many teams disengagement happens easily, creativity stops flowing, plus a lack of genuine social bonding and mental health issues are also key reasons to start to share the same space physical again.
There are many digital tools on the market to support these elements (creativity, engagement, social bonding), but it takes times to adapt and successfully start using them, which might be too long for many businesses who need to think fast, engage and change now. The quick and proven route is to get people back into the same physical space.
Carver Coaching has also produced a report called ‘Guidance for Supporting Furloughed Staff, long-term leavers & Returners’, which you can download for free from her site.