Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of Americans have been struggling to adapt to the new reality of routine supply shortages, social distancing, and living under quarantine. This is an unprecedented moment in history that has required each of us to undergo a major psychological shift. Today, after months of virtually complete lockdown, businesses in cities across the country begin to open their doors once more. Understandably, many of their employees have some serious reservations about returning to work under our current conditions. What are the strategies that employers have at their disposal to alleviate these fears?

The good news is that there are many ways that an employer can help to calm the nerves of an employee who is reluctant to return to work during COVID-19. The bad news is that some employers, depending on the severity of the crisis in their community, may need to have these conversations more frequently than others. But let’s set that concern aside for the moment and look at three simple and effective tips that can help any HR professional talk to an employee who’s nervous about returning to work during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Make an effort to listen to them and to understand their concerns. Always keep in mind that everyone is struggling with the pandemic in his or her own unique way. For some employees, that struggle will be primarily familial (they may, for example, have kids at home that they’re still responsible for looking after during the day). For others, it will be primarily health-related (they may have a chronic condition that puts them at unique risk). The upshot is that employers need to listen to each of their employees’ individual concerns and may, in some cases, need to create personalized return to work strategies on a case-by-case basis.
  • Implement policies that are geared towards minimizing risk in the workplace. Obviously, the vast majority of concerns that employees have about returning to the workplace stem from the fact that those workplaces were not designed with social distancing in mind. In other words, they imagine that they will be working in close proximity with their colleagues, just as they did prior to the onset of the pandemic. Therefore, it’s important for HR professionals to have a strategic and optimized social distancing policy in place and subsequently communicate the details of those policies with their employees.
  • Be prepared to answer questions about mandatory COVID-19 tests and temperature checks. Especially during the early stages of reopening your business, it may be good to check your employees for symptoms of COVID-19 routinely. These tests, however, need to be conducted in a manner that complies with the guidelines that have been laid down by the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC). With that in mind, any employer who is considering implementing mandatory COVID-19 tests or temperature checks for their employees should be sure to carefully read and understand those guidelines before doing so.


Are you interested in adding top talent to your team and minimizing friction during the return to work process? If so, PrideStaff can help! Contact our office to learn more about who we are and how we can help your team to thrive during this delicate and uncertain moment in history.

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