Handling Employees Resisting Returning to Work

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the easing of restrictions in the United Kingdom you may be in a position to ask your employees to return to work. With this, it is probable that employee resistance will take place. There may be many reasons why your employees may not feel that they are ready to return to the office and knowing how to deal with resistant employees in an understanding, compassionate, yet still firm manner is vital to keeping you, your workforce and said employee safe and happy in their job role. In this article we will discuss what you need to know in order to handle employee resistance in a professional manner that will more often than not lead to an outcome that pleases all parties. When returning to the office you should always look to do it safely whilst adhering to any restrictions or guidelines that are put into place.

Why You May Receive Employee Resistance

The first thing you need to take into account when you receive any form of employee resistance regarding returning to the workplace following the easing of restrictions is to try and see things from their point of view. Whilst it may not seem like there is any reason as to why an employee would not want to return to the office you should always take the time to sit down and talk to them to learn exactly what their reasoning is. There could be all manner of reasons as to why an employee may resist going back to work, but some of the ones you should keep an eye out for that could commonly arise include:

  • Health Concerns

This will perhaps be the greatest cause of employee resistance when returning post-COVID. With nearly seven million cases reported in the UK and over 100,000 deaths, there is sure to be some health concerns from employees about the safety of returning to the workplace. This could be an issue especially for employees that may have pre-existing health conditions who were deemed most at risk during the pandemic.

  • Anxiety

Mental health became one of the biggest talking points during the COVID-19 pandemic, with many people beginning to feel the effects of anxiety and depression due to lockdown. Of course, this is not an issue that should be taken lightly and will need to be handled delicately. Anxiety can be based around anything be it getting ill, family and friends becoming ill or even having to isolate due to a positive test.

  • Childcare Issues

During the pandemic the issue of childcare was greatly diminished due to people being able to work from home and look after their children whilst they were off school. Of course, as schools have opened up again the need for childcare for children over the age of four is much the same as it was pre-pandemic. However, many people may have had children during lockdown and will struggle to return to the office due to lack of childcare.

Man working from home while providing childcare

Laws Around Returning to Work and COVID

As far as how to deal with resistant employees and the law it really should be taken on a case-by-case basis. However, there are return to work strategies that you can employ in order to ensure a smooth transition back into the workplace. There are a few things that you will need to do in order to let your employees know of your intentions, and outsourcing this to a professional human resources company, such as Lotus HR, could be a great way of simplifying the process.

You should consider what strategy would be best for your workplace. There can be major positives in keeping your workforce at home that can greatly benefit a business. In the future the norm may be a home-based work life, you may not even have to have an office to run a successful business. In the future it may even be the case that workplaces that do not offer remote home working for employees could be at a disadvantage in the recruitment process. If you would like to learn any further information regarding employee resistance, or if you would like to learn more about return to work strategies that could benefit your business please feel free to get in touch with a member of our team today.