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The Great Reassurance: The Mental Health of Your Post-Pandemic Worker

When it comes to industrial organizations and workers’ mental health, there exists a bit of a paradox.

Many dismiss factories and other industrial environments as being less in touch with corporate culture, at least in comparison to most office environments. Executive environments have a better reputation of thinking about and caring about the comfort of their workers.

But in fact, post-pandemic, industrial companies are actually ahead of the pack when it comes to creating a comforting, reassuring environment for their possibly-nervous post-pandemic workers.

Think about it – when you see signs like “402 days since an accident” posted on a warehouse or factory floor, or even a sign reminding workers to wear ear and eye protection – they are there for one reason. To let workers know that their company not only cares about worker safety, they care about reassuring them that theirs is a “safe space.”

Desktop Nerves

Now it’s time for office culture to catch up and get in that habit as well. Post-pandemic (although are we, really?) office workers need that reassurance too.

According to a recent McKinsey report1, although some workers “expect that their return will have a positive impact on their mental health (19 percent), almost half of respondents (49 percent) anticipate going back will have somewhat or significant negative impacts.

That’s a staggering percentage. One that all organizations need to reckon with as they bring people back to the office. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to reassure these nervous workers.

Touchless Tech

Although technology isn’t the only way to reassure your workers that they are safe – implementing new monitoring and reporting tech is a great start.  Making it all touchless, when possible, is even better. 

For instance, consider Sine.  They specialize in making commercial environments safer and reporting on the ‘health’ of the building much more transparent, not just to building operations but to everyone who is in the building. Especially your workers.

One way Sine helps to streamline and safeguard your environment is through Visitor Management. It supports safety and monitoring of visitors in several ways. By reducing the amount of physical interaction between visitors, employees and reception, their iPad and kiosks can signal to all who enter that your organization takes safety seriously. Instant badge printing, facial recognition, geofencing, VIP and blacklisting are all features that remove the human factor from receiving and monitoring everyone in the building.  (Win-Win Bonus: Being able to track all this via one simple dashboard is a great plus for management and leadership.) Other Sine features include COVID-19 screening and contact tracing. This allows building operations to be able to pre-screen visitors and send out alerts to all employees when any COVID-19 contact has been detected.

Talk It Out

But that’s just the nuts and bolts of safety software. The human factor of reassurance from leadership is also extremely important.

One very simple but empathetic way to make your employees feel like you care about their mental health is to “check in.”  Rather than launch into business as usual, address any cultural elephants in the room first. Host an authentic conversation. Make them feel heard.

Rhett Power, Forbes columnist and guest in Episode 8 of our Forging Connections podcast, says it’s about so much more than reporting and monitoring. It’s about “having a real dialogue around tough issues. For example, I was in a call the other day with a group in Poland and we started the meeting and you could just tell all of a sudden that they wanted to talk about the war. The war that's going on right next door to them. And yet we skipped right into the business side of it! So the meeting just fell completely flat. Because we didn't address the thing that was really top of mind for them.”

Power reminds organizations that the responsibility of their workers mental health while in the building sits squarely upon the shoulders of leadership. He continues, “I mean, there's more than COVID, right? There's a lot of stuff going on in society and we've got to learn to talk about those things. As leaders.”

Aside from listening to and addressing the personal concerns of your workers, there are other things leaders can do to support their workers. One way is to add in more innovation in their roles. Make room for it. Give them some creative space to innovate and show them that coming back to the office is so much more than business as usual. When employees are excited about the impact they can make in an organization, they are excited to be at work.

Which brings about one final win-win bonus.  Letting your workforce participate in the innovation of your organization is something all smart leaders should be doing anyway. Though it might have taken a pandemic to remind us to do so, keep the momentum going by involving your workers in innovating your company. Maybe even your entire industry.

1 https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare-systems-and-services/our-insights/returning-to-work-keys-to-a-psychologically-safer-workplace