Return Anxiety: Allaying fears and getting your people back to work

As employers attempt to get back to business, many struggle to find people willing to return to work. It’s tempting to blame work ethic or the extra $600 per week unemployment booster provided by the CARES Act. Realistically workers who are reluctant to go back to work may have well-founded fears. Here are some of the worries that may be keeping them up at night.

Will I be hurting my family financially by going back to work?

As of this writing, the $600 in additional unemployment has not been extended, so it may not be a factor. Still, for a lot of workers, that extra income represents a significant part of their decision-making process. It may not seem like that much money, but for those living from paycheck-to-paycheck, it can significantly impact their economic well-being.

It enabled people to make ends meet, get ahead on bills, or even put away a little for a rainy day. When given the opportunity to take a job offer, possibly for less money than they are getting from unemployment, they have to weigh the potential future job security against the weekly cash in hand to make a thoughtful decision for themselves and their families.

Is it even safe to go back to work?

Reassure candidates that their health and safety is a priority. Discuss measures you or your employer partners are taking to provide a safe workplace. They’ll want to know the building will be set up for social distancing, PPE will be provided and adequate sanitization measures taken. Be sure they know to come to you if they feel unsafe, and you will take action, whether that means giving them a couple of extra facemasks or moving them to a different assignment.

PREMIUM CONTENT: US Staffing Industry Pulse Survey Report: July 2020 Selected Highlights

What if I get sick?

Screen employees for typical coronavirus symptoms and ask they get tested for the virus before returning to work. Instruct them on what to do in the event they test positive or experience symptoms. Your vigilance will give them confidence that you are looking out for the health of all employees, making them feel safer. You may want to update your sick leave policy to prevent ill employees from coming to work to avoid income loss.

How can I take care of my family?

For many workers, caring for children and family members is a real concern. Schools and daycare are still closed in many cases. They may need to care for elderly family members themselves if home care associates can no longer come to their homes. It may not seem like an issue employers can address, but there are ways you can help.

Allow remote work at least some days to alleviate pressure at home. If that’s not possible, offer flexible hours or alternative shifts. A little creativity can help employees to balance work and life in this extraordinarily challenging time.

Don’t Downplay Employee Fears

Covid-19 presents a real danger. People are being asked to risk death or lingering side effects to come back to work. Fear and anxiety are reasonable responses to a danger unlike any we have seen before. Empathize with them and share your own concerns.

Get Back to Business – Safely 

Keeping your business shut down is untenable in the long term. You need people to come back to work and they need to be confident that they will be safe and healthy there. If you can make the work environment as safe as possible, listen to employee concerns and provide them with information and resources, they will be happy and productive, and you’ll be back in business.

For more resources to help your staffing firm navigate the pandemic’s impact, visit our Covid Recovery Resources page.

Cathy Lanski

Cathy Lanski
Cathy Lanski is a senior copywriter with Haley Marketing. She can be reached at clanski (at) haleymarketing (dot) com.

Cathy Lanski

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