The R3 Continuum Playbook: Understanding Your Employee’s Fears About a Return to the Workplace
As employers make decisions about requiring employees to return to the workplace and what form that takes, Dr. Tyler Arvig says they need to consider the concerns and fears employees are having about it as well. He offers ways employers can approach this decision and support their employees’ wellbeing. The R3 Continuum Playbook is presented by R3 Continuum and is produced by the Minneapolis-St.Paul Studio of Business RadioX®. R3 Continuum is the underwriter of Workplace MVP, the show which celebrates heroes in the workplace.
Intro: [00:00:00] Broadcasting from the Business RadioX studios, here is your R3 Continuum Playbook. Brought to you by Workplace MVP sponsor R3 Continuum, a global leader in workplace behavioral health, crisis and security solutions.
Dr. Tyler Arvig: [00:00:15] Hello. My name is Dr. Tyler Arvig, the Associate Medical Director at R3 Continuum. As many organizations are beginning to make decisions about going back into the workplace or even deciding if they should return to remote work, I want to provide some information on how to handle the fears that some employees might be feeling at this time. It’s been nearly two years since we heard of the COVID-19 outbreak across the world, and it’s continuing to impact the lives of all of us.
Dr. Tyler Arvig: [00:00:50] While it’s tough to think about now, certain aspects of pre-pandemic life that seemed unimaginable when the virus struck now seemed possible again. As the world continues to evolve and change, businesses are beginning to think about making decisions regarding return to work in the office, going for a hybrid approach or utilizing work-from-home environments. When pondering these decisions, leaders should take a step back and think from the mindset of your typical employee. How are they feeling about their current situation? Are they feeling anxious or distressed? Are they concerned for their safety? What can they expect when they return to the office? And ask yourself if you asked your employees any of these questions or heard their concerns.
Dr. Tyler Arvig: [00:01:49] Over the past 16 months or really more, everything has changed. Most people have transitioned to working from home; and if not, the workplace has drastically changed over that time with health and safety measures being put in place. Those who are parents have had to work through having kids at home and helping teach them in some capacity. As changes in your work, personal and likely financial situations have occurred, this has probably also led to increases in stress. A study done by the Centers for Disease Control in 2020 mentioned that the rate of depression in adults increased almost four times, and the rate of anxiety increased almost three times since the start of the pandemic. Therefore, the pandemic and everything that’s taken place in between has definitely taken its toll.
Dr. Tyler Arvig: [00:02:52] While this may change over time, we are currently seeing a new world or rather a new old world. In most places in the US, masks are no longer required. You might be walking into your convenience store not wearing a mask, while some folks still are. That’s the new old world. For a lot of people, wearing a mask has become part of their day-to-day life. On the topic of walking into a convenience store, we are beginning to see more organizations remaining open again, flights being fully booked, concerts are happening and more. While we are seeing things like this changing back, everyone continues to be hopeful, but also somewhat tentative. As we are getting near the end of summer and vaccination has become more widely available, many employees are starting to think about returning to the office; while, some have already made their decisions and are needing to reanalyze those decisions.
Dr. Tyler Arvig: [00:04:01] As an employee, there are a lot of questions that remain. From the personal side of things they may be asking themselves, how will going back into the office affect my children? What will need to be adjusted in order for me to take care of my family? How’s the commute going to be? And how will it impact my day-to-day life again? Will I be able to maintain a work-life balance. And from a work perspective, a lot of employees are wanting to know things like, will my employer care about my challenges? How will the transition back to work even go? And will it be successful after working from home for so long? Lastly, and not insignificantly, will I be safe at work?
Dr. Tyler Arvig: [00:04:56] As a leader, making this decision for your employees isn’t easy. Whether you decide to have employees returned to the office, go back to working remotely, or continue working remotely, here are some good tips to be sure that you’re providing to your people. To start, be sure to utilize the employee assistance program that you might have. A lot of employees are unaware that they have access to an EAP. Make sure you’re communicating to your employees how they can access your EAP and let them know more information about it. Explore some applications that could potentially help with mental health. There are numerous smartphone apps that can be used to help with things like stress management, anxiety and depression. Do some research and maybe provide some options to your employees. In fact, your EAP might even have something like this. This is something you can do over email, or with links or employees can really access this in whatever way meets their needs. It’s something that you may not have thought of that you can provide.
Dr. Tyler Arvig: [00:06:14] Provide employees with resources from your HR department. HR departments often have different resources they can provide to help employees to support their well-being. Utilize what you already have and be sure to communicate and reach out to your employees about those things. Communication is really key in all of this. While this might seem like a daunting task, I’m reminded of something that’s attributed to Dr. Martin Luther King, the saying that goes, “You don’t need to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.” The quote is powerful in this day and age as we move forward to the next normal, one step at a time.
Dr. Tyler Arvig: [00:07:02] While there are likely a lot of questions about the future, it’s important for leaders to not only feel prepared to help your employees through these difficult times, but also to support yourself. R3 Continuum can help by providing proactive efforts to maintain the psychological and physical support for your organization. R3C’s tailored solutions can help your organization with crisis prevention and preparedness, crisis response and recovery, proactive employee wellbeing outreach and more. Learn more about our custom solutions and contact us at www.r3c.com or contact us directly by email at email@example.com Thank you very much.
R3 Continuum (R3c) is a global leader in workplace behavioral health and security solutions. R3c helps ensure the psychological and physical safety of organizations and their people in today’s ever-changing and often unpredictable world. Through their continuum of tailored solutions, including evaluations, crisis response, executive optimization, protective services, and more, they help organizations maintain and cultivate a workplace of wellbeing so that their people can thrive. Learn more about R3c at www.r3c.com.
R3 Continuum is the underwriter of Workplace MVP, a show which celebrates the everyday heroes–Workplace Most Valuable Professionals–in human resources, risk management, security, business continuity, and the C-suite who resolutely labor for the well-being of employees in their care, readying the workplace for and planning responses to disruption.