Workforce Management

4 Skills for a Smooth Transition as Employees Re-enter the Workplace

As more states begin lifting restrictions that had been implemented during the peak of COVID-19, leadership teams are working hard to ensure a smooth re-entry process for their employees.

Like the rest of this pandemic, the re-entry process offers L&D and training professionals a unique opportunity to provide value and strategic support to their organizations by training and reinforcing the vital skills that will help organizations through a successful re-entry.

Here are the top skills for employees to help lead a successful workplace re-entry effort!

Emotional Intelligence Can’t Be Overlooked

Plainly speaking, emotional intelligence can’t be overstated or overemphasized during this time.

Quarantine and social distancing have been hard on almost everyone. A recent article from Business Insider highlighted some of the stresses and health hazards that arise from a prolonged quarantine.

According to the article and the studies it cited, it’s reasonable to assume many of your employees are dealing with issues including:

  • Increased stress due to the disruption of their routines
  • A variety of unpleasant emotions, including anger, sadness, and frustration
  • Physical, muscular atrophy

The quarantine’s effect on your employees’ outlook is powerful. A study from the Benenson Group found that 55% of Americans say quarantine has affected their mental health in some way.

All of this is to say that leaders need to have compassion now, perhaps more than ever. Before returning to work, make sure your leaders have the right emotional intelligence training to handle the various concerns and issues that will inevitably arise during re-entry.

Understand that re-entry doesn’t necessarily mean a return to 100% productivity, either.

Leaders need patience as employees re-adjust to new working conditions, and vigilant social distancing in the workplace means that processes will need to be modified and altered.

Setting expectations and preparing leaders for re-entry through emotional intelligence training should be a key priority for your training program.

Emphasize Agility

As we mentioned in the previous section, social distancing is going to change processes in your workplace, and employees will need to be re-trained on these processes.

The ability to adapt to new processes and times of change is called agility, and it’s a skill all on its own.

Consider a stick that’s stiff and rigid. When it’s not under stress, it’s strong and stable. However, when stress is put on it, it will break. Now consider a stick that’s flexible. When put under stress it bends, but doesn’t break.

This flexibility under stress is the essence of agility, and it’s a skill your organization needs right now. Adapting to change, be it personnel change, process change, or leadership change, is a vital skill for all employees to develop for a smoother re-entry process.

Crisis Communication Is Still Necessary

Even though it seems the worst of this crisis is behind us, the threat of the novel coronavirus is still very real. It’s well established now that the effects of the virus aren’t only impacting public health, but economic outcomes as well.

It will take time and effort for the economy to recover– over 33 million jobs will need to be filled again, and that won’t happen over night.

The economic impacts of quarantine and social distancing have had consequences for many organizations, but crisis communication skills will help you effectively communicate with staff, stakeholders, and customers so your business can recover faster.

You can successfully navigate the remainder of the crisis by focusing on employee engagement, client retention, and productivity – our free crisis communication ebook should help as well!

Everyone Is a Leader

Strong leadership and guidance are the most important skills for every organization to determine what re-entry looks like for them, and how to do it safely.

The re-entry process will require leadership skills across the board – not just from your employees in positions of authority. Every employee has the potential to impact morale and mood, and employees who show extra effort to ensure their peers and colleagues are doing alright should be recognized for their leadership skills.

These are strange times for everyone. Many workplaces have suddenly gone remote, or shut down entirely. Approximately 33 million Americans are unemployed, and leaders are balancing employee needs with the needs of their customers like never before.

Re-entry takes a lot of strategy, and it requires employees to have the right skills to navigate a complex (and of course, unprecedented) situation.

With a strong training program to strategically support your organization, you can successfully handle a smooth workforce re-entry!

For everyday leadership skills for your entire workforce, be sure to check out our free infographic on servant leadership!

Training & Development Industry Researcher | Derek researches, discusses, and writes about the impacts of employee learning on organizations and individuals. He regularly interviews L&D and HR professionals, sharing their insight on trends and best practices that help organizations create stronger training programs, and help to grow their employees and their business.