Too much Too soon?

Employees and Employers have all faced unprecedented challenges this past 18 months due to the pandemic. As our so called “normal working lives” resume, how can employers protect their workforce from burnout?

People have had to adapt to working from home, often juggling family challenges such as home schooling or looking after elderly parents and all whilst attending countless zoom work meetings.  Some employees have even lost family members due to COVID and then returned to work in an office environment where they may not believe they are safe.

Companies have had to adapt quickly to a rapidly changing economic environment.  There have been enormous pressures placed on business owners, both financial and emotional.  They have had to make difficult decisions such as who to furlough, with many having to make redundancies to ensure the business survives.

This situation has often led to a breakdown in communications where decisions have been made quickly, with employees left in the dark about why certain decisions were made.  Businesses who have not communicated their decisions effectively have had to rebuild trust with their employees.

A toxic work environment does not help anyone to thrive. Mental health is at the forefront of recent media coverage and this signifies a positive change in our culture. It should not be a stigma to admit you are not coping either at work or at home.

Return to work – how can employers improve the situation?

As employees return to full-time work and offices, how do employers help those employees who have been coping with these various pressures?

How do you manage peoples worries and concerns? Managers will have to be more mindful than ever about their employees’ mental health and how they are coping with their worries about contracting COVID19.

Managers also need to bear their employees’ wellbeing in mind as many people have not used their full holiday allowance over the past year. Often employees have felt an obligation to keep working through the pandemic rather than take their allocated holidays, perhaps because of concerns about losing their jobs.

There may also be employees who are suffering the effects of personal relationships that have broken down as a result of the current situation.

It is not a simple task for business owners to balance the needs of keeping a company afloat and looking after the needs of their staff. Employers who have benefited from a loyal workforce through the pandemic can avoid losing their workforce to burnout if they look after the wellbeing of their employees now as normal life is resuming.

What do businesses need to do?

One of the methods that employers have used in the past to increase productivity is offering attendance bonuses to improve staff attendance rates, especially now businesses need to ensure that staff are taking their proper breaks and full holiday entitlement to avoid inevitable burnout.

It is important for companies to empower their managers to show a genuine interest in their employees in order to encourage staff engagement.

Even by recognising achievements, perhaps by sharing employee successes in an internal newsletter or having a team lunch can help employees feel more appreciated. Often a simple “thank you” from a manager can mean a lot to an employee who is struggling and an acknowledgment that they are important to the team.   Managers also require help and support in carrying out their roles, so having a  mentor who is available to support them is important.

Sickness policies should be reviewed to take into account whether any enhanced sickness payments are possible. Employees have been working under increasing strain, so taking time out can be a good thing to do.  The Working Time Regulations have never been so important for addressing how long employees can safely work, and taking care of your employees’ mental health, as well as their physical health, is important. If employees have good mental health they will be able to return to normal working life refreshed and reenergised.

Employers also need to consider that a safe physical environment helps employees to feel secure. It is important to carry out health and safety risk assessments of office facilities and establish whether it is practical for employees to socially distance or if it is necessary for everyone to wear masks.  Consultation is also an important factor in any decision making process, looking after all your employees is key.

A workplace should be where everyone is able to thrive because motivated and committed employees will contribute more to a business’ success and perform better.

What does the future hold?

Our world has changed and there is a noticeable difference in how people have been kinder to each other within the communities in which we live and work.  Hopefully we all are able to take this forward into our roles in the workplace so companies can be more resilient as they face the future.

To discuss this or any other related matter with Jane or her team, please call us, email info@hartbrown.co.uk or start  a live chat today.

*This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

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Jane Crosby

Partner, Head of Dispute Resolution & Accredited Mediator

Jane is a Partner based in the Guildford office and she is also Head of the Dispute Resolution team here at Hart Brown. Jane specialises...

Partner, Head of Dispute Resolution & Accredited Mediator

Jane Crosby

Jane is a Partner based in the Guildford office and she is also Head of the Dispute Resolution team here at Hart Brown. Jane specialises in employment Law and commercial litigation and brings more than 15 years' experience to her role.

Prior to entering the legal profession, Jane was employed in the aviation industry. This experience is appreciated by many of Jane's clients who note that she is able to take a commercial and pragmatic approach to any legal issue that they face.

Jane acts for a wide range of individuals and businesses and her areas of specialism include aviation, property related industries and IT. Jane regularly advises on aspects of employment law, such as settlement agreements, employment contracts, policies and procedures, redundancies, equal pay, data protection, issues arising from TUPE and reorganisations, the calculation of holiday pay, bonus and commission payments, disciplinary and grievance issues, dismissal and termination issues, the protection of confidential information and the enforcement of restrictive covenants. Jane gets involved in GDPR training for her clients and she is able to deliver tailored employment law training sessions upon request.

As a commercial litigation lawyer, Jane also deals in shareholder and directors disputes, commercial contract disputes and the enforcement of restrictive covenants.

Jane has been involved in successful high value commercial litigation for clients in the High Courts, she is an accredited mediator and she is a member of the Employment Lawyers Association.

Jane is often asked to write for a number of well known publications, including The Daily Mail, The Telegraph and The Week and she has been interviewed on BBC Radio 4.

Here is small selection of the feedback that Jane has received:

“Jane, I cannot sincerely thank you enough for your wise counsel and am delighted to have made your acquaintance. If I am blessed with a new position somewhere I will hand over my contract in the first instance to you. Likewise, any of my friends, peers, romans and countrymen wanting advice, I will point them in your direction.”

“Jane, you have been most resilient on my behalf for which I sincerely thank you for all your endeavours. I have a tremendous working relationship with Hart Brown and you have undoubtedly compounded this further."

“I appreciated the clarity of advice given at a stressful time”.

“A sensitive and highly professional approach and efficient work in the interests of the client”.

“Your advice, conduct and assistance have been indeed outstanding and very professional but also – and most importantly – very humane”.