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Any type of big change can cause stress, especially if it’s a disruption in our normal routine at work. After a year where many people transitioned to remote work, now many organizations are gearing up to again make major changes –– whether that’s returning to offices, instituting formal flexible work arrangements or even making remote work permanent. And, according to a recent Forbes article, half of the U.S workforce is under stress. Here are ways businesses can help employees manage the stress associated with these transitions.
Understand work's impact on mental health
The same Forbes article references a disturbing finding from a research study on mental health: 55% of the respondents reported that Covid-19 has had a negative impact on their mental health. This is not good news, especially since organizations today acknowledge a profound connection between an individual’s work life and their mental health. Organizations that support their employees not only improve employee engagement, but also increase workforce productivity.
Foster open dialogue
A lot can change in a year, so make sure that managers have open conversations with their team about what they want going forward for career development, work arrangements and work-life balance. At different stages in people’s lives, they can work longer or shorter hours, take on more or less responsibility, or need more flexible hours. Rather than assume, check in with career conversations, encourage them to assess their needs and truly listen.
If a team has been working remotely for a year, some colleagues may feel disconnected from each other. To reverse the social distancing of the past year, managers can encourage connecting beyond the usual project meetings and emails by planning for social outings when it is safe to do so again as well as taking action on other tips to help combat burnout.
Transparent and frequent communication
Finally, when stress and uncertainty are on the rise, transparent and frequent communication on future plans, timelines and processes will help create peace of mind and even mitigate rumors. Good leaders will involve their teams in the discussions of how best to move forward through actions such as employee surveys and focus groups.
While the uncertainty of what the post COVID work world will look like can create stress, organizations can take tangible steps to support their workers and keep workforce productivity going strong.