Human beings are hard-wired to crave certainty about the future. Uncertainty is perceived as a threat by our minds and, as we transition back into the physical workplace there are many questions to address.

Given that the human mind is constantly wanting to predict the future to feel safe, involving employees in the imagination of the new ways of working will give a sense of agency and make staff feel they have more control. Two-way communication can be the key to reducing anxiety and distress, keeping your team as up-to-date as possible, even if there has been little change.

To encourage staff to speak up about how they are feeling we need to create a psychologically safe environment, where they are supported in the face of uncertainty. It is not always easy to spot the signs that someone is struggling, so promote regular conversations with employees about worries and wellbeing. This will make clear that sharing concerns is valued and safe to do so without fear of discrimination.

Furthermore, staff will feel ‘safe’ if senior leaders model their vulnerability by sharing their own emotions and fears associated with the transition. Coffee breaks, team meetings and pop in virtual chat rooms can all provide opportunities for your people to connect to express concerns and also celebrate successes.

Finally, it is important to consider the impact in relation to individual circumstances. Some may have gained a better work life balance by not having to commute so may be reluctant to give this up. Some staff may have remained in the office, ‘holding the fort’, whilst others may have been furloughed. All will have a different experience and emotional response to this unsettling period.

We can minimise the potential harm to the mental health of our workforces, and consequent impact on productivity, if we take a proactive approach now to supporting the wellbeing of staff.

Ready to take the next step? Please get in touch to have a chat about how we can help. We’d love to hear from you!