Return to Work Anxiety: How to Help Your Employees

As governments loosen restrictions, many employers have begun developing plans to ensure that employees are brought back to an office setting safely. This includes operational and logistical considerations, setting up employee schedules, elevator usage policies and much more. But it’s important to also address and plan for how to deal with feelings of stress and anxiety around the return to work.

These uncertain times have taken a toll on the mental health of many employees, affecting future productivity and engagement levels. According to a survey conducted by KRC Research and Weber Shandwick, 45 per cent of employees are afraid that their employer will bring them back to the office before it is safe. Additionally, only 34 per cent of employees feel safe returning to work when there is a vaccine or treatment and 52 per cent of employees have growing concerns about the future of their company and their role.

Here are few tips that can help employers strategize for the new normal and address return-to work anxiety:

1. Communicate transparently and regularly
Consistent two-way communication is key to managing employee anxiety. Ensure that your teams receive regular updates about company performance, ongoing initiatives and any business-related information. Keep employees abreast of information that is critical to their role and to the success of your organization. Endorse transparency and engage teams to be a part of the growing conversation.

2. Implement Recommended Public Health Measures
Employees need to be aware of how the company is implementing, monitoring and enforcing government recommended public health measures. CDC provides a comprehensive guideline to help businesses and employers respond to COVID19 within the workplace. Provide your employees with assurance that preventive steps are being taken, closely monitor developments and update protocols as the situation evolves.

3. Provide training to leadership teams
Employees will depend on their managers and leaders to ensure a smooth back to work transition. Organize virtual training sessions that focus on managing a hybrid workforce, developing emotional intelligence and building a collaborative work culture. Arm your leaders with the necessary resources and tools to effectively address employee anxiety over return to work and provide healthy ways to cope with it.

4. Be Flexible
If your company has implemented remote work, consider surveying your employees to see how they feel about continuing that arrangement for a definitive period of time. Gauge the success of your remote work experiment by monitoring the productivity and engagement levels. Employees will expect flexibility, particularly if they are looking after children and parents. For employees that thrive better in an office setting, evaluate and plan for hybrid working arrangements.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Remote Leadership

Currently almost 40% of Canadian employees are working remotely due the COVID19 outbreak. If given a choice, 80% of employees would prefer to continue working from home at least some days of the week, according to Global Workplace Analytics. Employees consider remote work as their ideal work scenario because it leads to greater work-life balance and increases productivity levels. But managing a remote team is not always easy. Managers struggle with feeling of decreased control over their team, monitoring challenges, and problem solving.

Here are some tips to help leaders become better remote workforce managers:

Do

1. Communicate Frequently: Keep your team engaged and connected on a daily basis. Utilizing communication channels and collaboration software is a great way to build and retain engagement. Schedule regular check-ins via video meetings to ensure inclusivity and provide opportunities for employees to raise any issues. Make sure to develop and communicate appropriate work-from home guidelines that define expectations. Just as you would at the office, encourage collaboration on projects and regular feedback.

2. Be Flexible: Regular work hours might be difficult to impose especially under the current circumstances where many kids are at home with their parents. Recognize that this is an un-ordinarily challenging time for many of your employees and being rigid will do more harm than good. Trust your team and provide them with flexibility to work on a schedule that helps them be the most productive. If productivity becomes an issue, especially with an employee that has always been outstanding at their work, learn what is causing this decrease, and work together to develop a solution to get back on track.

3. Set Your Team Up for Success: Remote team collaboration is highly dependent on reliable technology. Ensure that your team has access to appropriate resources and equipment to help them get their work done effectively and to work well together. Also provide your team with sufficient IT support should something go wrong. Remind your team to take breaks and take good care of themselves, physically and mentally. Develop strategies to keep motivation up such as rewards or positive feedback.


Don’t

1. Avoid Video Calls: Digital tools have made remote communication convenient, but that does not guarantee effectiveness. Face-to-face interactions are extremely important to understand non-verbal cues and develop reactions based on what you see, rather than what you read or hear. In addition to emails and texts, managers should incorporate adequate face-to-face communication in their daily routine.

2. Focus On Control: Sometimes managers tend to focus too much on controlling scenarios and how work is performed. This creates a hostile environment for employees, who may already be feeling the pressure of a new way of working. Trust your team and focus on the outcomes, not processes.

3. Lose Company Culture & Connectivity: Remember staying well into the evening, eating pizza with your colleagues, working on that milestone project? Or popping your head into your co-worker’s office to bounce some ideas off of them? This is part of what builds a strong corporate culture and binds people together. Try to translate traditional office activities into your new virtual setting. Organize in-person team gatherings at least once a month, bringing everyone together to reconnect in person.

Benefits of Hiring Remote Workers

Remote work life has become the ‘new normal’ for most of us. Staff Accounting, Bookkeeper, Accounting Clerk and Coordinator are some of the fastest growing Finance & Accounting job categories in the work from home landscape. Cloud-based technologies and collaborative platforms have enabled smooth remote work transition for companies and have allowed employees to experience the power of utilizing data in the cloud.

Here are some benefits of hiring remote workers:

1. Reduces Business Costs
Hiring remote workers can result in significant business savings -office expenses, including infrastructure, utilities and supplies. Additionally, not all employees that work around the 9-5 clock are productive, resulting in more time wasted. With remote workers, hours billed = hours worked.

2. Increases Productivity
When companies offer the flexibility of remote work, employee satisfaction and productivity increases. 77% of remote employees say they are more productive when working from home (HubSpot, 2020). Employee monitoring software such as Teramind, VeriClock, ActivTrak, TimeDoctor are valuable productivity tracking tools that can help employers validate hours billed to hours worked.

3. Access To Deeper Talent Pool
Unrestricted by geography, hiring remote workers expands your talent pool and increases your chances of acquiring top talent. Your company now has the flexibility to staff based on business priorities and can hire specialized workforce for specific remote projects. Since 2015, the number of employees working remotely has grown by 44 percent (Wong, 2020).

4. Reduced Employee Turnover
Companies that hire remote workers also benefit from reduced employee turnover. 90% of employees claim that flexible work arrangements and schedules have increased their morale (Flexjobs, 2020). Employees enjoy the boost to their work-life balance that comes from a remote position and tend to stay at their jobs for a longer period of time.

The world might never be the same again as this remote working mandate takes over our traditional 9-5 regime. Remote work benefits employees and does wonders for businesses as well. At PTC we connect you with F&A, Administrative and Human Resources professionals who can work remotely.

5 Tips for Successful Business Continuity During COVID19

By our sister company, ProVision Staffing

Even under these unprecedented circumstances, some businesses are continuing to operate smoothly. What’s their secret? They acknowledge the challenges and also focus on the opportunities to make their company more resilient.

We offer 5 important strategies for businesses on a mission to stay alive, stay relevant, and come out of this pandemic less harmed:

1. Invest in remote work setups – Since 2010, the amount of people that work remotely once a week has grown by 400%. (Hubspot Research) Prior to the global pandemic, only 41% of global businesses offered remote work flexibility (flexjobs.com). Now is the time to increase your company’s investments in videoconferencing tools and collaboration software, many of which do not require a huge budget.

2. Consider contract employment – Contract employment gives businesses the freedom to “hire talent on-demand”. The flexibility and scalability of contract staffing allows businesses to achieve their long-term and short-term growth targets, which makes this staffing solution ideal for challenging economic times.

3. Keep communicating with & supporting your employees – It becomes extremely crucial to calm and reassure your workforce during such uncertain times. Employers must encourage upskilling, boost morale with special incentives and schedule regular video calls etc to maintain your teams momentum.

4. Plan for the future – Use this decrease in pace to re-evaluate and identify new business opportunities. Start building new connections, growing your social media presence and developing a strong comprehensive plan for COVID19 recovery.

5. Support your client base – Show your clients that you are here for them, and that you care about them. Avoid pushing for sales and take the time to listen to their concerns. Strengthen existing relationships by providing solutions that will appeal to them and that are relevant under existing circumstances. It is important to be recognize and plan that your customers’ requirements might change post COVID19.

It’s important for businesses to be adaptable and open to change. Post COVID-19 the world will likely be a different place, at least for the next little while, and businesses that are set up to adapt to the “new normal” will have the competitive advantage.