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  • Writer's pictureFelicity Baker

Is Returning to the Workplace More Stress than Euphoria?

Updated: Nov 2, 2022

We’re so excited to launch our first newsletter on LI that we wanted to post it here too. We’ve got so much to share, it was hard to know where to start.

So, we thought we’d kick off with a few words about something which is on the minds of a lot of people at the moment – the return to the workplace.

Is returning to the workplace more stress than euphoria? Here’s what you can do about it

Some of you may be heralding the return to the workplace as a sign that things are getting back to normal. With routines being re-established or new ones being developed, it might be feeling like you’re moving onto solid ground again. Maybe the disconnection you were feeling has undermined your work performance or made it harder to deal with stress and you’re looking forward to being around other people again, chatting, collaborating and joint working.

Others may be dreading it, finding it difficult to face going back into the workplace, still anxious about the risks of Covid, struggling to juggle the demands of home and work or adapt to hybrid working. You may feel underconfident in your social skills, wondering what to talk to people about or fearing difficult conversations about experiences during the pandemic.

Speak to your manager

The first step if you are struggling is to speak to your manager or a trusted colleague, If you keep going in silence, the problem will not get resolved and may get worse, undermining your mental health and wellbeing.

Manage anxiety

You can also prevent anxiety from escalating by recognising and reducing behaviours that either maintain or worsen our stress. Notice the urge to avoid and take small steps towards feared situations to rebuild your confidence. Let go of ruminating, unproductive worry and negative predictions as these can escalate your anxiety. Step back from these thoughts by writing them down, distracting yourself, or talking to someone. To keep thinking in perspective ask yourself how would someone else see this situation and remind yourself that you coped in the past.

Psychological safety

If you are a manager or leader, you can create a context in which employees who are struggling will find it easier to adjust back to the workplace and to reconnect with their colleagues. This might involve arranging small get togethers, group lunches or ‘back to work’ coffee breaks. Checking in with those who are struggling, taking time to listen and understand their concerns and exploring solutions in a collaborative way will help them feel included and remind them that they belong.

Facilitating a culture of psychological safety in which your team can begin to feel comfortable with each other again will be key. Modelling and encouraging prosocial behaviours, recognising and appreciating each other’s strengths, and finding points of connection and interest will help to smooth the transition back to the workplace for everyone.

Looking after HR

We were kindly asked by Jenny Arrowsmith at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors to run a session for some of their HR clients focusing on ‘Looking after HR: Support for wellbeing and resilience’.

It was a really interesting session, with discussions about the challenges faced by HR in recent years and the barriers they experience accessing support for themselves.

When HR professionals feel unable to look after themselves due to time, demands, culture of ‘carrying on regardless’ or fear of being perceived as weak, they are more likely to experience emotional exhaustion and burnout. And this can impact the health and wellbeing of their teams and the resilience of the wider organisation.

In our session, we provided skills and strategies for managing stress and building personal resilience. We talked about the benefits of resilience supervision for HR professionals and the role of psychological safety for employee wellbeing and resilience.

We had some great feedback on this session: People really appreciated having space to reflect on their own wellbeing and to consider ways that they, as leaders and mangers, can contribute to a culture of wellbeing.

If this sounds like something you are interested in please get in touch to find out more. 


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