With meteorological Summer beginning this week, and extra lockdown measures being lifted, we are currently in a period of limbo. For many, the opportunity to reopen their businesses, or to come off Furlough, provides for a period of hope after the Silent Spring of lockdown. The reopening of some shops, with more to follow, gives many the feeling of hope that they can now go and join huge queues outside furniture stores, can now go and meet family and friends, with restrictions, and can start returning to whatever normal has become.
For many, however, those that have been kept away from work, or who have shielded themselves, or who have been personally affected by COVID-19, there is a new fear. A fear that if they go out they may contract the virus. A fear that lockdown measures may be being lifted too quickly.
In both instances the excitement of hope or the anxiety fear brings are genuine problems that will affect the country this Summer. Many businesses are currently putting in measures to ensure that social distancing, cleanliness and hygiene are maintained in their businesses. But business owners and directors must also ensure for the foreseeable that people's fears and concerns are met at all stages. Communicate with your people. Try and answer their concerns, which will be genuine.
Many businesses already have a mental health first aider in their business. Someone that any employee can go to to offload or talk about their anxiety issues. Now is the time if you do not have someone in place to get them trained up. Mental Health First Aid (just Google it) courses are, for the first time, being offered by companies online, via video conference. Make sure that you use them. It is an important investment that will reap rewards for many years to come. A happy workforce is a more productive workforce. Similarly, a workforce that is cared for maintains good productivity levels.
This Summer will be a difficult one for all businesses and their employees as we all come to terms with new ways of working. With businesses starting to reopen, there is a renewed hope amongst many. But with it comes the anxiety and fear of what lies ahead. Good health and safety management of this is vital in every business.