Communicating a clear route out of lockdown
Navigating a regular return to work is now imminent for employers in England as restrictions are slowly lifted and employees are encouraged to return to work if safely possible and they cannot work from home.
How you communicate your policies to your employees in a sensitive, safe and timely manner will be crucial to reassuring them that your workplace is safe and ready for their return.
With many employees understandably feeling nervous and apprehensive about their return to work, managers and business owners need a plan that maintains safety, manages resources and rebuilds morale. Here are some principles we use at Inside Out to help shape our return to work communication plans.
Put wellbeing at the heart of your communication
The impact on mental health will be profound and only really be recognised in the long term as the crisis continues.
Focus on empathy and listen to your team during this time. Your daily or weekly meetings aren’t just about sales, pipelines and who is doing what. A more important topic at this time is asking your staff about what’s on their minds and sharing their feelings, giving kindness and support will not only make your team feel valued and build strong rapport but it will help keep strong mental health.
Ask questions like; how are you looking after your wellbeing today? What are you doing to manage your workload? How are you making time for yourself? And be sure to share what you are doing too.
State the facts and tell the truth
Your employees may be scared and unsure of what will happen with the company, their jobs and the future as a whole. Humans are scared of the unknown, our old ways have been pulled apart and resulted in high stress levels and a feeling of being out of control.
Take away this mystery, explain to your staff in an honest way. If you don’t know an answer to something simply say ‘you don’t know yet’ however you will let them know as soon as you do know more.
Your staff will appreciate your honesty, if you don’t answer the question they will simply fill that void with thoughts and details that may never happen or may not be true. Build trust by trusting them.
Safety will become part of our everyday conversations for the foreseeable future. Take this opportunity to proactively share what you are doing to make the workplace safe and use whatever channels and tools you have at hand to remind people about what they need to do in return.
You might not get it right first time, so be prepared to listen and learn. Ask for feedback and advice from your people, and get them involved in suggesting ideas for improving ways of working. Nothing will embed a culture of safety more than inviting your people to be part of it.
Look after your leaders
Bear in mind that your managers and senior team leaders may also be in a crisis, many will have stress or anxiety – remember that they’re human too and may need additional support at this time.
Spend time getting to know how they are managing and coping with this new way of working. What is causing them to stay awake at night, and what can you do to help? Perhaps it's worth setting up a support group for leaders or creating a frequent call for all managers to attend to share their progress and challenges.
We've developed a ‘Return to Work Communications Package’ designed to provide you with everything you need to relay your message and ensure your staff feel protected, safe and comfortable on their return to work. For more information please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’d love to chat more.