Anxiety about returning to work after the pandemic.
Lockdown affected us all differently, social isolation, financial and work-related worries, the concerns about infecting oneself or others, and uncertainty about returning to normal have led to a significant increase in depression, anxiety, stress, sleep disorders and other mental health conditions. It’s completely normal to feel uncertain about returning to the workplace after a long time away. There are many reasons that people are going to be worried about coming back. Or putting forward their worry about coming back. These may include that they or a family member are shielding, having a medical condition, not trusting work colleagues to behave safely, not having the correct personal protective equipment, vaccinations, a disability the list of possible reasons for not returning to work is endless.
Risk assessments will need to be done but this is a difficult process assessing people’s ability to return to work when there is a lot of anxiety around these issues. Anticipation of what awaits you when you reach the office and pre-existing problems prior to being furloughed such as performance problems, interpersonal relationships, on top of covid concerns. However, there are steps we can take to ease the transition.
We can share our individual lockdown experiences as away of reconnecting with our work colleagues. It has become the new normal to talk about how we are feeling, especially in the workplace. If you are feeling overwhelmed or apprehensive about working alongside others speak to your line manager and ask about how things will be done differently in the workplace according to new government recommendations. Remember that it is normal to feel anxious or uncertain at first, everyone is adjusting so look after yourself, check in, and be kind to each other.
If the anxiety is beyond general anxiety or they have a pre-existing condition it might be advisable to speak to HR and seek expert help from a EAP service who can gain in depth knowledge about the situation. To seek understanding as the best way forward and the adjustments needed for your employees to return to work. Working with a counsellor can assist you to untangle your concerns.
- Key questions need to include how long have the symptoms lasted?
- How much they interfere in someone’s life, how upsetting are they?
- Are the symptoms improving, worsening or remaining stable?
- How is it stopping them leading a normal life?
Assess whether you are suffering from health anxiety. Assuming it is an anxiety disorder, information and therapy will be provided by your counsellor. It is important that managers are alert to a change in the behaviours of their workers. Looking out for such things as fatigue, hyper aroused, preoccupied with worry and more prone to making mistakes. Its plausible that there will be a higher preponderance of workplace absence as lockdown lifts which could impact on the morale and psychological wellbeing of the reduced workforce, and increasing the possibility of occupational burnout, which is why now more than ever before having a EAP counselling service to lean on can benefit everyone involved within the company.