Mental health: considerations for employers who have staff returning to the office

News Article

After Boris Johnson’s announcement on 22 February, which included a roadmap of England’s exit from lockdown, some employer’s may be eager to get their staff working in the office once again.

However, managers must consider how the lockdown has affected their employees individually.

One notable change to acknowledge being furloughed staff returning to a 9-5 lifestyle and a potentially less flexible work schedule for those who worked from home.

Many employees may need to adapt to more regular working days without a potentially comforting and germ-free home surrounding them. Employers will, of course, need to think about their worker’s physical health and safety but also consider their mental health when asking for a return to previous working conditions.

According to a recent survey, throughout three lockdown periods, many have suffered from sleep problems, including insomnia, patchy sleep and, in some cases, unusual and vivid dreams. So, employers could have a transitionary period for their staff, incorporating more breaks, for example.

Additionally, businesses should be mindful of their employees coping with busy and crowded places again after months of reduced social contact and hyper-vigilance around “germs”.

To help with this psychological safety measure, employers could encourage hand-washing habits and keep hand sanitiser around, which could diminish the risk of employees feeling ashamed to continue these practices as a coping mechanism.

Samantha Randall, an Employment Law expert at Palmers, said: “The research shows that many workers will require support upon returning to the office.

“If you require help and advice relating to employee wellbeing at work, it is essential that you seek specialist advice.”