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Reduce Stress during the Return to Work Transition. Like many HR professionals, your hands are full with getting people integrated back into the office after a long virus-induced absence. When the pandemic hit, it was bad enough having to deal with employees working from home…but now that they’re returning to work, how can we reduce stress during the return to work? 

If you’ve ever boarded a plane in your life, you know that in the event of an emergency, when the oxygen masks drop down, you should put your mask on before assisting anyone else – be it a child or an elderly person.  

The lesson here is that taking care of yourself is equivalent to taking care of your employees, especially in these times of unrest. So while you’re preparing to transition employees back to the office, you should also keep your mental well-being in check.   

Identify your stress triggers 

First, it’s important to understand what puts you in a stressful state. Some people don’t realize when they’re stressed themselves until it shows in their engagement with others. If you’re unsure how to identify your stress triggers, ask someone you trust — like a friend, family member, or your therapist — to tell you honestly when they see behaviors that suggest stress. 

Next, make a list of those stress triggers and think about what you can do to mitigate them. Do you need to take some time off away from work? Do you need to ask for help from your boss or a mental health professional? Is there any way you can lighten your current workload? 

Schedule some “me” time during the workday 

Don’t head out to the spa just yet. We’re not talking about a midday massage!   

What you can do is give yourself decompression time blocks. For example, try not to run any meetings back to back, and after a long meeting, give yourself a 10-minute break to stretch your legs.   

 If you’re a human resources manager or department head, you know that employee one-on-ones are notorious for running longer than intended. When possible, space these out evenly in your schedule throughout the week or month. Powering through these in a day is mentally and emotionally taxing.  

Get yourself an industry sounding board you can trust  

If you have someone you can talk things through within the industry (a friend, trusted colleague, mentor), use them as a sounding board. It could be anyone within or outside your organization. 

It’s good to have someone neutral to bounce ideas off and who will ask hard questions about your role and responsibilities. They may also pick up on things you’ve missed that could be useful for you or even share their company’s transition plans with you.  

Proactively be part of the solution 

“Working from home works for us; why do we need to go back?”  

You might have heard this A LOT by now. In fact, you might be even asking it yourself.  

If your company hasn’t started transitioning workers (or is currently in the early stages), this is the best time to run every possible scenario with upper management. Ask appropriate questions such as:  

  • Will all departments be required to return to work?  
  • Are there any exemptions to return to work?  
  • How will we accommodate immuno-compromised staff?  
  • Other staff members have moved to other states; could they still work remotely?  
  • Is it possible to adapt to a hybrid working schedule?

Now is the best time to advocate for yourself and your employees. By doing the due diligence at this stage, you will be able to ask questions your employees might have right off the bat. The outcomes may not always be in their (or even your) favor, but having the answers ready and well thought out before you deliver them to your employees will make things easier.

Focus on what you can control

Your job has changed drastically over the last few months, and it will continue to evolve as things change around you. But while some aspects may be out of your control, there are still plenty within your reach.

You won’t be able to control how your employees respond or react during this time, but you can control how you respond and react. So focus on those areas and channel your energy towards them.

You’re not alone, and plenty of other managers are experiencing the same. Find ways to make time for yourself and schedule some “you” time during the workday to relieve stress. The important thing is to manage your stress during this transition proactively.

Stay calm and always lead by example.

We know hiring can be stressful. HW Staffing can help you fill your hiring needs and find the best candidates to power your company, contact us today to request the talent that you need.