How to deal with resentment as employees return to work
Almost all Covid-19 legal restrictions have now lifted, and it’s up to you as an employer to determine whether your staff should be in the office. However, going back to ‘normal’ following a pandemic isn’t as simple as just going back to the office. After a year of homeworking in isolation, employees may have no real idea of what each other might be dealing with and, as many organisations begin to re-open, issues of resentment in the workplace could come to the fore.
What might have created a sense of resentment?
While some people have enjoyed the extended time at home, others have found it isolating and draining. People have fallen ill, lost family members or friends, and been left with the lasting impact of COVID-19. So, while you may think returning to the office should be an exciting time for many, it might not be the case for everyone.
There is a chance that, when employees do eventually meet, there may be some resentment from those working from home and those who have been furloughed. The employees who have continued to work throughout may feel they have held the business together in exceptionally stressful circumstances while their colleagues have had a few months at home. Furloughed staff, on the other hand, may have felt the anxiety of worrying about job security and being out of the loop for this period of time.
So, what can you do to support?
- Ensure managers drive positive change with good, clear communications.
- Challenge any kind of inappropriate behaviour immediately to foster a culture based on dignity and respect.
- Ensure you listen and that employees are heard and understood. Honest communication and respect are key components— especially regarding their needs post-pandemic.
- Remind everyone about what is acceptable conduct in the workplace and ensure everyone is aware of your company policies and procedures and they are up to date.
- Encourage ways to resolve issues informally and use formal procedures where appropriate.
- Utilise Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) if you have them – provide support for mental health.
- Be consistent and fair – ensure that employees are not favoured for certain things, for example the ability to work flexibly.
- Team building – when it’s safe to do so, staff team building activities are a great way of reconnecting your team and help reduce resentment.
Good people management is fundamental to fostering positive working relationships; spotting early signs of conflict and resentment, and initiating early intervention is crucial.
Resentment at work can take on many forms. It can also manifest in different ways and leave employees feeling despondent and disengaged. This can ultimately impact productivity and the bottom line, so it is vital that employers encourage employees to be mindful of their behaviour and respond to instances as and when they occur.