• Lyndsey Howard

How to Transition Your Team Back to the Office

October is Mental Health Awareness month in New South Wales, and as many businesses prepare to return to the office, there is no better time to reevaluate your mental health policies to ensure they are set up to provide support to the changing needs of your employees.

For some of your team, returning to the office may be a confusing and potentially anxious time. Although most employees will be excited at the prospect of returning, you must also eliminate any worries your team may have, ensure the correct policies and procedures are in place, and ensure a smooth transition back to normality.

What can you do to make the return to the office a seamless process for your team?

1. Take it slow

Offer your team staggered start dates or times for those first few weeks to allow them to adjust to the new normal. Organise welcome back sessions with employees, informing them of how things are different. Your team will be looking to their leaders for guidance on what to expect in the coming weeks, and it’s important for them not to feel overwhelmed. Allow them to ask questions, voice concerns, and feel validated upon their return to the office.

2. Ensure the correct procedures and policies are in place and that your team understands them.

The most important documents to have upon the return to the office are an updated Mental Health and Wellbeing Policy and a compliant Covid-19 Safety Plan. The circumstances and environment we work in have changed, and your policies must reflect this. Offering up-to-date support and advice, ensuring your team knows where to turn for guidance when required.

Following Government guidelines and regularly updating your plans will keep you and your team safe and informed.

3. Reconnect

After months apart, organise an icebreaker as a way for colleagues to reconnect and develop those business relationships that have been behind a screen for so long.

4. Offer support

Ensure there is an open line of communication between you and your team at all times. Listen to their concerns, and evaluate how well they are adapting to the new normal. It’s important to ensure your team knows that they can access support should they need it. Offering support through an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) will allow them to access support for both professional and personal issues.

Tips for creating a healthy workplace

Training: Provide regular training that addresses mental health in the workplace for all employees. Ensure your managers and leaders have specific training which teaches them how to spot the signs of mental health and how to handle it.

Regular check-ins: Ensure you have regular check-ins with your team members, check on their workload, is it manageable, do they have everything they need to succeed? This one on one time will also give you the opportunity to identify and address any concerns.

Know the signs: It’s important to educate yourself on what signs you may need to look out for if someone is suffering, and more importantly, how to give the support they need.

Provide flexibility: Offering flexibility allows employees to adapt to their schedule if they are struggling; this can eliminate potential stress and create trust between employer and employee.

Policy reviews: Ensure you are regularly monitoring, reviewing and adapting your Mental Health and Wellbeing policies with the most up-to-date and helpful information. Protecting both your employees and your business.

It’s important to remember that everyone is different and that each member of your team will feel differently about the return to the office. Therefore, you must have the correct procedures in place to ensure they are heard and their concerns addressed.

If you need support updating your mental health and wellbeing policy but aren’t sure where to start, contact our Human Resources specialists today. Find out more.

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