BLUF

It’s important that employers make the post-pandemic return to work. as least stressful as possible for their employees

Summary

Mental illness is the leading cause of absence from the workplace. Throw in the impacts of COVID-19, and we’re in the midst of a very challenging period. Australians will trickle back into their usual workspaces as we slowly get the pandemic under control, thanks to lockdowns and a highly-publicised vaccination campaign. Leaders, therefore, need to brace themselves for a psychological aftershock and be prepared for a heightened need for support and the provision of mental health services. Frederik Anseel is a Professor of Management at the University of NSW (UNSW) and an organisational psychologist. He argues that while the pandemic has awakened many employers to the benefits of flexible working, there are ways leaders can make the transition back to the workplace easier for employees who cannot continue working from home as follows:
  • Communicate proactively and meaningfully. Leaders need to discuss with and reassure employees upon their return to work in one-on-one conversations.
  • Acknowledge and renegotiate past agreements. If there had been an informal contract with an employee pre-pandemic that is no longer possible to uphold, this would necessitate another conversation and a new agreement.
Professor Anseel recommends employers try to honour agreements made before the pandemic as much as possible to help instil a renewed sense of trust at a very vulnerable time.