Ian Hodson: How can you engage employees who are returning to the workplace?

According to feedback from our wellbeing surveys, one of the aspects that has been missed during lockdown has been the social connectivity with both the organisation and colleagues, so this will form one of our focus areas as we welcome individuals back.

It is worth noting that a lot of our thinking will also need to be considerate to budgets until such times where activities return to normal, so we will be looking at activities we can utilise in a resource efficient way.

To start with, we will focus on wellbeing and activities that have worked well virtually such as running, walking, book and film clubs. We will look at how we can keep that momentum going but supported with some virtual meet ups as well. Reconnecting with colleagues in a social way is as important as doing it in a work context.

We will also be dusting off the benefits that we had to have dormant over the past 12 months and giving them a real push through our communication channels to focus on the brighter future, including a lot of our lifestyle products such as cinema tickets, holidays and days out.

We also want to ensure that our recognition processes continue to be promoted, including our recognition cards. At our annual Merit and Achievement awards, we will focus on telling the stories of colleagues and how they have supported and innovated in the crisis, as many will have missed out on hearing about these events.

We are also planning a summer festival event which, restrictions permitting, will bring together our student and staff communities, many of whom will have joined during the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, to take part in activities together and break down any anxiety barriers.

For some, returning to the workplace after such a long break will be an apprehensive time, so we will also make sure that facilities like our employee assistance programme (EAP) support services and mental health first aiders are on hand for anyone who needs to talk through how they are feeling.

Ian Hodson is head of reward at the University of Lincoln