It was hard for many companies to make the sudden pivot to having most or all employees work from home. As things slowly improve, though, more and more companies are considering the return to the office. However, this comes with a lot of anxiety, specifically returning-to-the-office anxiety, on the part of employees. Some may not be quite comfortable with being out in public or may have difficulty adjusting to not having to worry about COVID. All are dealing with readjusting their schedule and accepting the return of the commute. Some may have made lifestyle changes to adjust that are hard to reverse. In fact, one survey of 4,553 office workers in five different countries found that every single one of them was anxious about going back to the office.
Benefits companies have a role to play in guiding companies through this adjustment. One of the solutions is a digital benefits tool like Benefits Zone. So, how can benefit providers help?
Communication About Returning-to-the-Office Anxiety
Many companies are taking a staged approach to reopening which can be confusing to employees. Employees might not be entirely clear on when they are expected to be in the office. Other employees might get a waiver from returning due to, for example, having younger kids who can’t be vaccinated and want to keep them home, having an immune condition, or not being able to be vaccinated due to allergies.
This means that policies are changing and might change again. What if there is another large surge right as you reopen? Do you reverse reopening? Any changes will make people more anxious. An app like Benefits Zone can help you keep everyone updated, in real-time, on updates to policies. These can include text message updates to help ensure everyone knows things like whether they are going to be expected to wear a mask.
Many companies are, again, staging the return. Some are also considering ongoing flexibility. For example, some companies encourage employees to work from home if they have a mild respiratory infection. Improved flexibility also helps relieve the pressure to return to the office before they are ready. Allowing people to return slowly to alleviate returning-to-the-office anxiety, perhaps one day a week, then two will help mitigate this anxiety and support their mental health.
Employees need to know that hybrid and flexible schedules will work, and the app supports this by allowing you to integrate work-from-home request forms and updated time card technology. When and if something comes up, employees will know that they can request to stay home without any hassle.
Mental Health and EAP
Last, but far from least, employees need to know what they can get out of the EAP program to help them deal with anxiety. While telehealth is starting to decline, it is still in heavy use and teletherapy is a critical part of making sure employees have access to the help they need.
Make sure that your offerings are up to what people need and expect. For many companies, continuing to support telehealth for mental health concerns will be key in the future; both current and prospective employees will look for and expect these benefits moving forward.
Learn More About Handling Returning-to-the-Office Anxiety
Providing your employees with the support they need will help the transition to the office go smoothly. It also ensures that they remain productive through the change.
Your clients and their employees are almost certainly feeling some anxiety about going back into the office. By using Benefits Zone, you can help provide them with the support they need to support a flexible, hybrid return, ensure proper communication with workers, and support everyone’s mental health. Contact us to learn more.