Staff concerns as workplace restrictions ease

After working-from-home during the pandemic, office-based managers and staff are still adapting to the newly unfolding COVIDSafe work culture. And with the return-to-the-office rules and restrictions being frequently adjusted, many employers are grappling with a range of staff concerns.

Here are the 3 key staff concerns we are currently seeing:

1. Anxiety about returning to the workplace

Some employees are nervous and uncomfortable about returning to the office, with concerns around personal safety, such as the perceived COVID risk of taking public transport to work or sharing office space with co-workers. Social anxiety may be another factor causing an employee to feel unsure about coming back to work.

View/download our Employee Assistance Program flyer >

2. Holding onto flexible work arrangements

Many employees have enjoyed working from home and now wish to maintain more flexible or "hybrid" work arrangements. Safety jurisdictions around Australia also agree that flexible work arrangements can help create a mentally healthy workplace and improve employee motivation and productivity. The Fair Work Act 2009 outlines some employee rights around asking for flexible working arrangements. There are considerations and rules regarding how employers can manage these requests.

View/download the Fair Work Ombudsman's best practice guide to flexible working arrangements >

3. COVIDSafe workplace requirements

The rules on COVIDSafe workplaces are a moving target changing week to week. This can be stressful for employers and employees alike. And while Australia's COVID-19 vaccination booster program is well underway, some workers have yet to come to terms with the COVIDSafe requirements that may apply in their workplace, such as mandatory booster vaccinations and record keeping, regular rapid antigen testing, and the use of PPE, to name just a few.

Read The treadmill of COVIDsafe workplace compliance >

Employers need to plan and decide what the organisation’s position will be regarding fluctuations in regulatory COVIDSafe requirements and take a strategic approach to maintaining a safe work environment. Employers also need to provide regular and clear communications to their employees.

When addressing staff concerns, it is important for employers and managers to listen carefully, talk things through, know your legal rights and obligations, and ideally come up with win-win solutions. This may mean thinking outside the box, being more flexible, explaining the measures being taken to protect employees, offering extra support services, and/or seeking professional advice.

To support employee wellbeing and mitigate mental stress, it is important to address staff concerns in a timely manner. An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can provide the critical support that employees may need to proactively address their mental stress before it escalates. Learn more >

For more information and tailored support, please contact us today.