Back to work blues? Here's how you can help your staff feel valued
- Credit: Leeds Day
Communication is key to making sure employees feel valued, secure and productive in moving out of the pandemic towards the future, says Leeds Day solicitor Rebecca Ryan.
Rebecca, who specialises in employment law, joined the firm’s Huntingdon team in 2017 and offers a range of solutions to employees and businesses on redundancy to disciplinary matters.
Rebecca spoke with the Hunts Post about how businesses can move forward as the world reopens after lockdown and her advice for making sure employees feel understood.
“The main thing is to focus on communicating with your staff,” she said.
“This is an ideal time for businesses to think about how they want to look now things are starting to get back to normal.
“It’s great to assess what the challenges have been and where the opportunities are for moving forward.
“Staff are the biggest asset – but not everyone's needs will be the same.”
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While some people have made the most of the work-life balance from being at home, others have felt isolated.
However, home working is likely to remain after the pandemic finishes, with most companies allowing employees greater flexibility on where and when they do their jobs.
Rebecca explained: “Some people have preferred working from home and having that extra family time, while others have felt quite lonely during the day and have missed the buzz of an office.
“Businesses need to remember that it’s not one size fits all.
“They may have to do some restructuring or redundancies or maybe change the working hours or contract locations.
“The ones that will do well will be the ones that have a clear vision about being able to mould it to what the staff want.
“In three to six months' time we don’t know what things will look like, but we can get prepared now.”
Concerns about coronavirus have also take a huge toll on people’s mental health, with Rebecca suggesting that line managers meet with staff to get a wider understanding of how they feel.
“Businesses should be mindful about people’s mental health and what they have been through over the past year – that's why it’s really important to chat to employees about how they have experienced Covid,” she added.
“Mental health is really important as some employees are anxious about going back to the office and are concerned about safety procedures.
“By organising a team meeting with the line manager before going back to work formally can really ease any concerns around this – even if it’s just a chat over Zoom.”
Rebecca continued: “Staff holidays are also a big focus, as many people had holidays cancelled last year that were rescheduled and some may not have taken any annual leave at all.
“Could it be that companies make sure that holiday dates are carried forward and maybe spread across two years?
“Or even put plans in place for if employees need to isolate after taking a holiday abroad?
“It’s key to discuss this with staff before they jet off.”
Discrimination, formal changes to contracts and flexible work requests could also be at the forefront of the coming months.
Rebecca added: “If businesses think that everyone will want to come back to the office then they will struggle and this could be bordering on discrimination.
“Make sure that your terms and conditions are formalised and be aware of the risks along the way.
“Making sure it is done right in the first place is always so much better in the long-run.
“Covid has been a big HR issue and we’ve got through the crisis, so it’s about how businesses work through it for the future.”
If any employees or businesses would like advice about moving forward in the world of work after Covid, then Leeds Day are there to offer support.
Get in touch with Rebecca on 01480 442040 or by emailing email@example.com.
“We can help businesses through any difficult areas and flag up potential problems,” she added.