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How to build an emotionally safe workspace for employees as they resume office in full swing

A few steps businesses and HR managers can take to provide an emotionally safer workplace giving employees a more positive and supportive culture

By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi |
May 4, 2022 9:40:33 pm
workplaceWhat should post-pandemic workplace be like? (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

As the world slowly resumes normalcy after the pandemic, most people are still coming to terms with the new normal. Now, while the return to normalcy may seem like a positive turn, and it is, it can be a strong trigger for anxiety and even thoughts of helplessness and hopelessness as people resume pre-Covid lifestyles after two years of personal and professional challenges.

“Under such circumstances, feelings of performance anxieties, job uncertainties, new faces in the work environment, new policies, new hierarchies, or even new managing bodies at workplaces, could all trigger overwhelming responses,” said Dr Ashwin Naik, co-founder, Manah Wellness.

According to a Global Study conducted by Oracle Workplace Intelligence, an HR research and advisory firm, up to 89 per cent of Indian workers reported that the pandemic has impacted their mental health negatively. The report also found that up to 32 per cent of Indians felt burned out from overwork since the time pandemic hit. The report further highlighted that Indians suffer higher stress levels than most workers globally, with 36 per cent of Indian employees having poor mental health (compared to 28 per cent globally), 32 per cent lack of job motivation (compared to 25% globally), and 31% feel disconnected from their personal lives (compared to 23 per cent worldwide).

work from home, things to do when you work from home, relaxing after working from home, dancing, cooking, exercising, reading, indian express, indian express news Workplaces need to become employee-centered (Source: Getty/Thinkstock)

“Thus, the Finance Minister highlighting the need for better mental healthcare in the Budget, urging businesses to ‘proactively’ promote employee mental wellness was a welcome move. Listed below are a few steps that businesses and HR managers can undertake to provide an emotionally safer workplace, allowing employees to resume work in a more positive and supportive work culture,” he said.

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Conduct wellbeing assessments

A ‘return to work emotional wellbeing assessment’ can go a long way to identify where each employee stands, what their apprehensions are, specific challenges they are facing and the support they need. This is not just a survey but a thorough psychological wellbeing assessment to ensure support can be provided where and when needed. Identifying and acknowledging the challenges they have overcome during the pandemic and staying proactive and persistent in clearly communicating precautionary efforts to make them feel safe about reopening workspaces, is a vital trust building exercise for creating emotionally safe workplaces.

De-stigmatising mental health

“The taboo and social stigma attached to mental health is one of the leading reasons why most people are unable to seek out professional help or treatment. De-stigmatising mental health related conversations or problems is the first step towards building an emotionally safe and supportive work environment where one does not feel threatened by or insecure about seeking help,” he continued.

Providing policies that encourage work-life balance

Stress is a major factor contributing to emotional or mental restlessness and if left unchecked, can be potentially harmful and have serious physical and mental manifestations. Offering supportive work policies that encourage healthy work-life balance can go a long way in not just allowing effective time management but to also alleviate work pressure and help employees lead happy and contended lives.

Regular physical and emotional wellbeing assessment by expert

Currently, while most businesses offer incentives on physical health or discounted medical policies, gym memberships or complimentary club house memberships, it is not enough. These encouraging initiatives do little when it comes to actual assessments of overall health and wellbeing. Regular mental and physical assessments can be crucial for several employees who may not even be aware of health problems – mental or physical, before that point.

workplace Here are some tips that can help at the workplace (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

Facilitating access to mental health experts

Lastly, facilitating conversations and access to healthcare experts is a vital step in setting up a supportive and nurturing workplace that actually cares for its employees. Several businesses are also employing the service of medical technology related apps and tele-medicine experts to protect the privacy of their employees and to allow them the safe space and anonymity needed to discuss their problems freely with a mental health expert.

“With the regular work from office resuming across the countries, it is important that business leaders set up and imbibe a sensitive and humane approach to managing and developing their human resources, with empathy,” he concluded.

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