As restrictions ease and insurance agencies join the ranks of businesses grappling with the decision of when to reopen and how to address critical issues around safety protocols, creating a safe place for the emotional well-being of staff should also be a major consideration in any go back to work plan.
Returning to the office entails plans for facilities, procedures, communication and enforcement. It’s going to be a lot of work, but eventually it will happen. For agencies with employees, supporting their mental health may be as important as creating a safe space to which they can return.
Managing expectations of your staff is more critical than ever. Every team member has individual circumstances with differing levels of anxiety. Some will be very eager to get back to the office, while others may be worried their safety is at risk. Just as the shift from the office to telework required a period of adjustment, so too will the shift back to the office.
The best thing you can do is communicate, beginning with your reopening plan and the new safety measures that will be put into place. Have a means to collect and hear concerns. You may find that additional accommodations can be made, beyond those mandated by your state, that will make your team feel safer as they head back to the office.
Be flexible with individual needs. Are some of your staff more at risk than others? Are there childcare needs or other personal situations that present a challenge? Now is not the time for a one-size-fits-all approach.
Be ready for setbacks. The reality is, some or all employees may have to return home if a known exposure to COVID-19 is identified. Keep watch for the less obvious – perhaps an employee is not adjusting well to transitioning back due to anxieties or other personal issues. Frequent check-ins, open communication and flexibility will be key to making the journey back successful.
Get help when you need it. Helping your employees access the resources they need to help them overcome mental health or other issues without fear of repercussions or stigma will go a long way towards earning their trust and loyalty. Also, speaking with other local business owners and managers may be helpful as you begin the road back to making your brick and mortar fully operational.