Reopening your workplace and welcoming employees back after pandemic lockdowns is an exciting time for businesses but also requires some special care and attention.
After working from home or being temporarily laid off, employees are looking forward to reconnecting, but social distancing has separated them for some time. This may lower company morale and impact team relationships. For that reason, businesses need to find ways to reconnect, open lines of communication, and boost morale.
Make transitioning to the workplace easier for employees and boost morale with these ideas:
1. Host a team meeting or happy hour
Put together small group meetings while following your province or states safety guidelines. This might mean breaking off the team into groups for smaller in-person happy hours. Or, if your team is smaller, you may be able to host a socially-distanced team meeting with everyone. Celebrating the reunion in person will help mark the occasion for everyone.
2. Do some team-building activities
Host a socially-distance group brainstorm, show-and-tell, lunch-and-learn, or group contest. This will help employees get reconnected with each other and alleviate some of the stress that they may have experienced over the past few months.
3. Send personal welcome-back emails or messages from the CEO
Make your employees feel appreciated and included by acknowledging their time away. If you haven't kept your communication lines open, update them on what's changed with the business, what new systems are in place, and how goals have shifted for the team. An email, letter, bulletin, or in-person address from the CEO is ideal, especially right now. Knowing that support is coming from the top will be reassuring.
4. Conduct a returning-to-work survey
Health recommendations are changing day-to-day. Employees may still have concerns or apprehensions about being around other people, even if they're celebrating going back to the workplace. This will vary a lot depending on the job role and number of people working in the same departments. Use a group survey to gauge your employees' comfort levels and address their concerns with appropriate safety protocols. Try writing your own using Google Forms or use this preset survey from Survey Monkey.
5. Give welcome-back gifts
Tokens of appreciation are remembered and you don't have to spend a ton of money. There are tons of budget-friendly options that can have a big impact on people. Consider a simple greeting card with a welcome-back message, or office supplies to spruce up their workspace. Seed paper greeting cards, plantable pencils, and notepads give the gift of planting which can bring joy and share a message about growth and sustainability.
Dealing with the global pandemic has been challenging for all of us. We've had to manage a massive, uncertain situation and have done the best we can considering the circumstances. Employees will appreciate your effort to welcome them back. This is an opportunity to celebrate and express how much their dedication matters.
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