The Pandemic – How Do You Really Feel – Part Two

In part one of our blogs, we looked at the pandemic and how people feel about returning to work. In this blog, we will look at the results of the survey. It will include how employers have dealt with the pandemic, employer responsibilities, and what they have done to support their employees. We will offer insight and advice where possible from an HR perspective, from both the employee and employer sides.

How has the pandemic affected you?

According to our survey, just over 33% of respondents felt ‘OK’ about the pandemic and lockdown, while over 66% said they have experienced mood changes. Understandably, none of the respondents were happy about the lockdown, and thankfully, none of the respondents felt depressed. The after-effects of the lockdown are not yet known, and it is understandable to have good and bad days, even for months or years to follow. When it comes to returning to the workplace, there can be feelings of anxiety and stress. Most people will have had their mental health affected in some way.

Advice for Employees

Have an honest discussion with your employer when you return to the workplace and let them know how you’re feeling. It might also be the time to suggest flexible working if this is something that will be possible and beneficial to you. It is vital to take your time and adjust back into the real world. It’s not easy, and the more you communicate and inform your employer about your mental health, the better. 

If you are suffering from poor mental health because of the lockdown, you can take some small steps to try and improve your mood. For instance, spend less time watching the news and more time doing something creative – such as reading, writing, or undertaking a course. Make sure you get outside as much as possible and maintain a good level of fitness. If the lockdown has taught us anything, it is that most of us have not appreciated nature the way we should. Take time to do what you love and stay away from things or people that are harming your mental health. As harsh as it may be to cut ties with people, it is vital to take care of yourself, first and foremost.

Advice for Employers

Make sure you discuss mental health with your employees in a quiet place when they return to the workplace. You should also check in with them regularly, as their mental health is probably going to be changeable. You should do your best to provide information on managing mental health and try to accommodate flexible working requests. It is not the time to throw employees in at the deep end; they will need time to adjust to a new (or old) way of working. Your employer responsibilities including looking after the mental health of your employees.

Flexible Working

All the respondents to the survey said that one thing they would change about the way they work on their return is flexible working. Most of the respondents wanted some form of blended working, with time spent between the office and home. Other comments were that they would like to feel more valued and work in a more positive environment. If you are not yet offering flexible working, it is time to do it.

Employer Support

57% of respondents felt that they were adequately supported by their employer during the pandemic and lockdown. Just over 33% said they were somewhat supported and 9.5% said they were not supported at all. Most respondents (just over 66%) stated that communication with their employer during lockdown was ‘OK’, while just over 33% said it was great. The number of times employers checked in with employees was variable, with around 14% stating that their employer checked in with them daily, around 57% stating they checked in weekly, 14% monthly, 9.5% every so often, and 4.7% not checking in at all. Thankfully, for most respondents, it seems that their employers did check in with them regularly, which is a good sign, especially since this has been a new experience for most of us. For the most part, it seems that employer responsibilities were taken seriously.

Positive Changes

We also asked the respondents what their employers had done to support their engagement or development during the pandemic and homeworking. These could be useful ideas for employers considering offering homeworking in the future. The responses included:

  • Virtual team games
  • Group calls on Zoom
  • Regular communication
  • Provided new equipment, laptop, etc.
  • Sunshine hour breaks
  • Virtual learning
  • Social time
  • Early finish
  • Quiz nights
  • Gifts

If you want some advice and support for getting back into the workplace after lockdown or you are an employer with concerns about how to deal with mental health or flexible working requests, you can contact us at info@bluetreehr.uk or 01787 695084. 

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