GETTING READY

Support for employees and managers returning to the workplace

Check out these tips—and sign up for an upcoming online support session

Happy colleagues sitting across from each other at a table

Credit: GETTY IMAGES

This content is provided to Johns Hopkins employees through a partnership between mySupport and Resources for Living.

As members of the Johns Hopkins community begin to prepare for returning to their offices, many will have concerns about both their workplaces and their personal situations. Here are tips that employees and managers can use to help ease their transition from remote to in-person work.

Return to work tips for employees

Staying healthy: Staying healthy is not just about wearing your mask, washing your hands, and getting vaccinated; it is also about how you take care of yourself. Prior to returning to work, come up with a plan for ways that you can take care of yourself physically (adequate rest, eating vegetables and fruit, walks), emotionally (meditation, writing, and other means to express emotions), spiritually (spending time in nature or donating to a charity), intellectually (reading a book, learning a new language, or watching a documentary), socially (spending time with loved ones or reconnecting with old co-workers), and through the senses (listening to soothing music while you work or packing your favorite piece of fruit or chocolate for lunch). Individually and combined, all these can help reduce anxiety and stress when you're returning to the workplace.

Dependent care: Putting dependent care supports in place prior to returning to work is important and can play a vital role in helping you integrate work, school, and family commitments during this time. The university's Family and Caregiving Programs include a host of helpful tools for families in need of dependent care. The Care@Work digital platform offers a full suite of benefits including premium membership for finding care on your own, Backup Child and Elder Care for when your regular arrangements are not available, and Expert Assistance, which provides access to a specialist for one-on-one help. In addition, the Family and Caregiving Programs team has been maintaining an up-to-date list of dependent care resources and can be reached through the Benefits Service Center at 410-516-2000 or by email at Benefits@jhu.edu.

Strategies for managing stress: Stress is a part of life, and a certain amount can be useful. Stress tells you it's time to take action. But you don't want to let it build up to the point that you experience stress overload. Some suggestions that can help you lower your stress level and avoid adding stress are eating right, exercising, and drinking plenty of water. Also, be sure to get plenty of sleep, know the source of your stress, organize your life, manage your time, relax, and keep a positive outlook.

Readjusting … again: If this pandemic period of time has taught anything, it's that human beings are capable of adjusting and readjusting. As you reenter the workplace, time management will be central, especially as you add commutes and social interaction with co-workers back into your day. As you interact with your co-workers, keep in mind that many people have lost loved ones and may still be grieving those losses. Expect to see a full range of emotions from yourself and others and know that is a part of the adjustment process. Also, think about the strengths you used to pivot to working remotely and leverage them to readjust to the workplace.

Return to work tips for managers

How do you support and guide your staff when there is no "business as usual"? Here are four tips for managers to use:

Understand employee reactions: No one has been in this situation before. If your employees are feeling uncertain, afraid, or angry about returning to the workplace, you may see poor work performance, increased mistakes, increased absenteeism or tardiness, or low morale.

If this takes place, remind your staff about available university benefits, including services to help with emotional and financial stress through mySupport.

Check in with yourself: Your ability to manage during tough times is impacted by your own reaction. It's hard to encourage others when you're feeling discouraged. So be honest about how you feel. Ask yourself:

  • How am I affected right now?
  • What is helping me get through this?
  • Who can I go to for support?
  • What will help me lead right now?

Find ways to help others: It's easy to feel hopeless during difficult times, when so much feels outside your control. But you don't have to "solve" the problem to support your staff. Instead, show empathy, stay visible, provide updated and accurate information, and be as transparent as possible about workplace decisions.

Remember that mySupport is here for you, too: mySupport has created a toolkit to help managers identify mental health disorders and recognize the impact that they have on the workplace. This toolkit also includes resources managers can use to support mental health well-being on their teams, locate and list the full range of mySupport services for employees and managers, and identify best practices that managers can implement to assist team members in distress. Click here to download the toolkit.

If concerned about an employee's well-being, managers also can consult with a mySupport clinician by calling 443-997-7000, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday. When you call, clarify that you are a manager reaching out to consult about an employee. A member of the mySupport OnSite Clinical Team will hear your concerns and provide recommendations. For more information, visit the mySupport manager resources website.

Return to work support groups

To assist all employees as they transition back into the workplace, mySupport will be hosting Return to Work Support Groups through the end of August.

Join mySupport for Return to Work Support Groups for Managers to learn about leading through change and to discuss how best to support your team as we prepare to transition back to the work environment. Sessions are scheduled on three dates:

  • Monday, July 26, at noon
  • Wednesday, July 28, at 3 p.m.
  • Monday, Aug. 16, at noon

Join mySupport for Return to Work Support Groups for Employees to get the support and resources to help you return to work, stay resilient, and cope with stress and anxiety. Three sessions are scheduled:

  • Monday, July 26, at noon
  • Wednesday, July 28, at 3 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Aug. 18, at noon

Registration links and additional information are available on the mySupport website.

Need more resources?

Resources for Living offers additional information and resources in support of return to work. Username: JHU. Password: JHU.

Make your mental well-being a priority. Johns Hopkins' employee assistance program, mySupport, is available 24/7, 365 days a year, for you and your household family members and children living away from home up to age 26. Call mySupport at 443-997-7000, option 2, for free, confidential help and referrals for any emotional or mental health concerns you may have.