How to reassure employees as uncertain back-to-school season begins

As the back-to-school season kicks into high gear, you are likely feeling the effects of it in your workplace. Along with the excitement of kids returning to in-person instruction, employees may be carrying feelings of uncertainty and extra stress at the backs of their minds.

Many are establishing or reestablishing school week routines in their homes while also balancing their returns to the workplace from a work-from-home schedule. This can be a lot to navigate all at the same time and can certainly impact work performance.

While it’s too soon to tell how this will impact productivity in the long term, there are steps you can take to ease the transition for everyone while preserving the quality of work from your team.

Open-door policy: Creating a culture that encourages open discussion benefits not only your employees but your entire organization. Inviting team members to openly discuss any challenges they may be facing that are impacting their work allows you an opportunity to find a solution before the impact becomes too far-reaching.

Focus on your culture: If there has ever been a time to focus on your company culture, now is it. Consider your organization’s core values and what has kept the most senior employees there the longest. Then, expand on those to reduce turnover and to ensure your workplace is one that employees want to keep showing up to for a long time to come, no matter what the future holds.

Be prepared: While it’s not unreasonable to still expect employees to fulfill their job expectations, having backup plans in place for unexpected absences or time off for medical reasons, either for employees or their children, is crucial right now. These are going to happen. Having a plan in place and a fluid workflow relieves the pressure from your entire team when workloads need to shift.

Check in frequently: After more than a year of looking into colleagues’ living rooms via Zoom, work-life balances have become a little blurry, to say the least. Being proactive and checking in with employees who seem to be contributing at a lower level than they usually do can determine whether the issue is at home or in the workplace. Additionally, this reinforces that they are a valued team member and person beyond just their role.  

Show gratitude: The current reality is that many are weighing the risks of returning to the workplace as well as considering alternatives to traditional schooling for their children. This may include homeschooling and leaving behind their job altogether. Beyond doling out a paycheck, don’t forget the human side of your business and express gratitude when you can to employees who decided to continue working for you.

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