Return to work blues? How to support recalled employees

Here's how to take care of your people as they head back to office

Return to work blues? How to support recalled employees

To implement a successful hybrid work arrangement, understanding the challenges faced by employees is the best first step. This is according to Soorya Themudu, SVP Human Resources, APAC & MEA, Sodexo, in a critical time when employees are requested to return to workplaces.

"C-Suite leaders need to demonstrate that they care for their employees, especially through this difficult period. In that way, employees feel safe to address their issues while remaining a valued member of the company," she told HRD.

According to Soorya, crafting a well-executed hybrid workforce will bring employees together and help everyone work better than before.

"Understanding the challenges that employees are facing in this new era of hybrid work is the first step for business leaders," she said. "At Sodexo, our leaders understand the challenges of balancing work and life. Managers regularly check in with employees and encourage them to take appropriate breaks."

Taking care of employees' wellbeing

Returning to the workplace is not as an easy thing to do, especially since a lot of employees have already found their groove in their workspaces at home and asking them back to new work arrangements can throw them off-balance.

Soorya stressed that it is important that employers create a "safe environment," where mental health is brought up and people are encouraged to get the help they need.

"This necessitates open communication and engagement across all layers of the company. With this mindset, employees know that they can reach out to their managers for a listening ear," she said.

HR leaders could also implement projects that could assist returning staff.

"To better support employees' mental well-being and foster trust in this current workplace, HR leaders and employers can implement company-wide HR programmes that take steps to help employees prevent burnout, adapt to challenges and be more aware of their own limits," Soorya said.

"Programmes and resources should be regularly reviewed to ensure that they remain relevant and enable teams to adapt to changing external contexts."

The Sodexo exec cited their company's initiatives on this. In 2015, the organisation started to roll out its employment assistance programme Sodexo Supports Me for employees based across Asia Pacific. The initiative provides employees and their families 24/7 access to confidential, professional counselling and mental health resources.

Later in 2020, the company also launched its APAC Health and Well-being Hub intranet portal to share best practices across its teams, including conversation starters on mental health.

In addition to these initiatives, Sodexo also engaged with its workplace well-being partner to carry out more than 15 live well-being webinars as additional support to its employees. The webinars, which were made available as recordings for on-demand refresher trainings, had professionals sharing about topics on mental and physical well-being.

"These wellbeing initiatives complement our employee engagement approach in our new reality," said Soorya.

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