Communication is at the heart of all good people management. It’s particularly important during times such as these when there is ongoing uncertainty, reassurance is being sought, and emotions may be running high.

Don’t be tempted to assume that because people are returning to work, things are “getting back to normal”. This has been a difficult, long and stressful period and now, more than ever, it’s vital that your teams feel well-managed and supported and that their wellbeing matters to you.

Here are some of the ways you can look out for your teams:

  1. Learn to spot team members who may be struggling

Keep an eye out for team members who may be coping less well than others. If there are concerns about attendance or productivity, approach them sensitively – some employees may be struggling to adapt, or they could be affected by problems outside work. To help them feel more comfortable, you may wish to arrange a briefing  session to ensure staff are aware of the support available to them.

  1. Make employee wellbeing a top priority

If employers don’t address employee anxieties, bringing people back to work will do little to help businesses return to pre-Covid productivity and engagement levels. Make employee wellbeing a top priority and if you’ve fallen behind with regular one-to-ones, appraisals, wellness action plans or staff catchups, now is the time to put that right and invest some time in keeping up communication with your team.

  1. Understand your employees

Remember, too, that we are all individuals – and people with different personality types react to situations in different ways. Tools like Insights can help you gain a deeper understanding of your people and the dynamics of your team – skills that could help you through this period of transition and also set the scene for future success. Our Insights Discovery sessions are available via zoom or our socially distanced training facility – find out more here.

  1. Train managers and leaders on how to support employees

Line managers are likely to have much of the responsibility of ensuring a smooth return to the workplace. It might be worth giving managers a refresh of some of the key areas of leading teams such as performance management, change management, communication and giving feedback. You should also encourage managers to familiarise themselves with the warning signs of stress and anxiety and factor in time each day to check in on team members.

  1. Continue to be flexible

Lockdown has shown that it is possible to get work done, not only remotely but also on people’s different working schedules. As workplaces open, or if you are bringing staff back from furlough, it’s best to be flexible and accommodate your team’s preferred working hours or personal commitments – where you can. Employees struggling to cope with getting back to work may be reluctant to put in a request for flexible working.

  1. Encourage an open workplace culture

Help employees stay connected with an open culture. Get them involved in decision making to help them better cope with changes – they should be confident that they’re working in a safe and caring environment. You can do this in group meetings (online or in person) to ensure teams are connecting and supporting each other. Use this time to share encouraging feedback and pay special attention to giving praise to colleagues who are doing great work – this will really help boost morale in this uncertain period.

Good communication and transparency are key to helping employees settle into the new way of working. Understand it may be difficult for furloughed employees to find their motivation to get back to work and for those who have continued to work, they may need time and support to adapt to being back in the workplace.

More guidance on supporting your teams in the new normal can be found in our RESET guide – downloadable here along with a number of useful resources to help your business emerge from lockdown and plan ahead.