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Many small business owners have started to act on their return to work plans. Some have decided to include remote learning, and some have not. Some small businesses cannot offer remote work because of the nature of what they do. No matter what, it is now or never for many small business owners. Plans to fully reopen have been architected with much care and consideration. Painstaking accommodations were considered. So it comes as a frustration to many small business owners when they find they have employees who are afraid of returning to the office. 

When the odds are against your small business, and you have made it this far, the last thing you want are challenges with your employees. The fact is that there are a surprising number of American workers who have genuine fear around returning to the office, even if they are fully vaccinated. Many small business owners did not anticipate having to consider employees who are afraid of returning to the office. The next question becomes, how do you deal with it?

Employees Who Are Afraid Of Returning To The Office Need You To Listen 

When you are frustrated, the last thing you want to do is listen. It is the best thing you can do for employees who are afraid of returning to the office right now. You might not want to hear about their fears and anxieties, but you can’t help them feel good about coming back to work if you don’t. Take the time to speak to them, ask questions about why they think the way they do. Hear them out. Maybe the distance between staying home and coming back isn’t as far as you feel. Sometimes, all anyone needs to overcome is to feel heard. 

It is a good idea to write down their challenges as they are talking to walk them through how you will handle those challenges, point by point. Ask for their input as to what they think will help them feel better about the challenges. Maybe they thought of a challenge to reopening that you didn’t know of but should have. Don’t rule out their ability to help make re-opening better more successful. Feeling part of the solution will go a long way in assisting them to overcome their fears and anxieties. 

Reassure your employees that you want to do what you can to ensure that they will be safe. Help them hear you about taking how they feel seriously. No one wants to have to let anyone walk away from an excellent job if they don’t have to. Is the barrier too high to overcome? It usually isn’t. Agreeing on how to handle the challenges for employees who are afraid to return to the office will make everyone feel better. 

We All Need To Overcome Uneasiness Around People 

We’ve been keeping our distance from other people for more than a year now. Last year has had an impact on most Americans psychologically. It is time for all of us to admit that. When you have been told to keep your distance for the sake of your life and your health, it is hard to get your mind around suddenly being comfortable again. It is okay. Let your employees know this is a normal reaction for most people, but it needs to be dealt with. 

Talk about your challenges with getting used to being around people again. Tell them how you felt better about rejoining society after a long pause. It may help your employees feel better to know they are not alone in this and how you overcame it. 

If all else fails, some of your employees who are afraid of returning to the office may need to seek the help of a professional therapist to get past their fears and feel more confident in living life again. Encourage them to seek professional help as a bridge from fear to confidence in coming back to work. 

Does your employee health plan include mental health benefits? With so much that has transpired in the last year, many Americans see the need for mental wellness now more than ever. The effects of living through a pandemic will be evident for years to come. Your employees need mental health coverage just as much as excellent healthcare. Can your small group health plan provide that for them?

PEOs can offer the coverage your employees need at a lower cost than most small group health plans. If you see the need to cover yourself and your employees for mental health benefits, contact us today for a free consultation on how PEOs can help you provide better benefits than what you are paying now. 

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