Today marks the end of the furlough scheme (30 September) and some may be feeling nervous or uncertain about their return to the workplace.
Two million UK employees could be returning to work in October and for some, this will be the first time in over a year.
Returning employees may experience a sense of disconnect to the business compared to those who have worked through the COVID-19 pandemic. This could leave many feeling left out or unwanted.
According to a recent survey, already one in three workers have said the return to work has impacted their mental health in a negative way.
Whether it is individuals starting a new role, adjusting to a completely restructured organisation or just simply returning to their existing workplace after a year, this may cause many to experience anxiety.
However, employers can take steps to place more emphasis on team building and making employees feel like they belong.
By prioritising this concept, businesses can implement a smooth transition of employees returning to work whilst creating an open and accepting environment.
Why should employers create a comfortable team environment?
Employers should not feel they need to try and “fit in” with the company. The business should shape its culture to reflect and encourage all employees to be their unique and authentic selves.
This can directly improve employees’ feelings towards work, ensuring their happiness and in turn, a higher rate of productivity.
This is crucial for businesses as this will be the first time that the business will be working at full capacity since furlough started.
If employees feel that a higher emphasis is put on their feelings and having their voices heard, employers can ensure that workers have integrated back into the business efficiently in the post-furlough world.
How can employers create this inclusive culture?
Employers ought to consider team sessions to discuss either work or personal live matters closely with their colleagues.
A nice way to do this is to discuss topics, such as achievements of the week, lessons learnt this week or even delve deeper and discuss the difficulties of returning from furlough directly.
Encouraging employees to open up about work-related concerns will demonstrate that they trust the business or fellow employees and may help them with any previously concealed feelings. This can also assure that employees are all on the same page when discussing work tasks or topics.
Employers must not underestimate the importance of employees feeling part of the company and the positive impact it can have on the success of the business.
Employees settling back into life post-furlough is something that businesses should put at the forefront. For many, the past year and a half have been full of uncertainty and instability. Therefore, organisations have a duty of care to ensure this transition is as smooth as possible.