A recent study has shown that: 40% of employees are worried about returning to work because of the risk of catching Covid 19 . Including fears for their safety, tensions related to crisis management or a climate of constant uncertainty...the sources of unease about returning to work are numerous and may eventually become a demotivating factor for employees. It’s therefore more vital than ever to adopt a genuine approach aimed at improving well-being at work, one which takes account of the specific circumstances we face in this current period.
Meeting the need for safety and security
In a situation in which any physical proximity is now seen as a risk to our health, it’s important to reassure staff that they are safe in the workplace. As part of this, adopting an effective health policy which provides for physical protection is essential. Washing hands, keeping a safe distance, the cleaning of equipment, everything must be carefully thought out to ensure that all staff can feel safe and confident when on the organisation’s premises. However, these policies are not always sufficient. The association that people now automatically and rightly make between physical proximity and danger is one which may be with us for a long time to come.
Fortunately, there are solutions to reassure those staff members for whom the health policy alone may not be enough. The important thing is to create a bond of trust with our employees once again.
Among other things, this can be achieved through good communication! As a manager, it’s particularly important:
- to regularly praise staff, highlighting the importance of their contribution to the company.
- to show that you’re available for staff wishing to discuss their difficulties with you, (feel free to send out an email to let them know this!)
- to tell it like it is, with no false promises and no erroneous information! We need to be honest and upfront.
Reducing tension and resolving conflicts
Regardless of the crisis management policy adopted by the company, it’s always possible that it has left the teams with a certain sense of injustice. There are many examples of this . To re-forge bonds between employees and to reduce any possible tension, the solution is once again… communication!
As a manager or supervisor, the first thing to do is to engage in irreproachable organisational communication. In particular, this means ensuring transparency concerning the decision-making processes. Explain all the decisions taken during the lockdown to the staff and the reasons behind them, as this may help foster a feeling of fairness and justice. In doing so, there can be no question of communicating by email or during random chats in the corridor. As far as possible, you should gather together all of the employees and address them formally. In doing so, you will be ensuring that all staff have the same information, which contributes to the trust they place in the organisation.
Maximising a sense of control
Another characteristic of this crisis is that the uncertainty concerning the coming months may have particularly important consequences for the motivation and well-being of our employees. Even for the most experienced team members among us, the feeling that they have at least some control over their environment is vital. To avoid any decline in motivation with your teams, you should seek to boost this sense of control!
It’s the manager’s job to support employees and help them to better manage uncertainty. This means helping staff to be more aware of their successes but also of the possibilities for mutual assistance available within the team. Here are a few simple practices to help managers contribute to this goal:
- regularly congratulate staff, both for their results but also their skills, their commitment and their good-natured cooperation…
- break all projects down into short-term objectives, which will enable your teams to chalk up “wins” more frequently as they meet each objective.
- include regular collaborative working sessions to promote mutual assistance and support between staff!
To sum up, the last few weeks have highlighted new professional difficulties associated with the return to the workplace. This is a good time to review our management practices in order to reassure staff and to rebuild bonds between our teams. Safety, security, solidarity and confidence are the watchwords to keeping people motivated and committed over the coming weeks!