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Safety First: Mental Health & Workplace Safety Go Hand-In-Hand

After months of adjusting to working from home, many of us are now facing the possibility of offices and workplaces being re-opened and a new set of inevitable adjustments. The transition alone can be stressful, not to mention the added factors of some children still remotely learning and a long list of other challenges, but the unknowns regarding your safety in the workplace is a stress that can be mitigated through communication and understanding.

There are two sides to creating and nurturing a safe environment for all employees – preparation and respect. Whether you are part of the office management team or not, being aware of the how’s, why’s and expectations can remove some of the stress and concern.

First, preparation:

  1. Before the plan is even made, reach out to employees to seek their comfort levels, their needs to feel safe and considered.
  2. As your plan takes shape communicate regularly with all employees, vendors and clients.
  3. Set clear guidelines, for example, employee’s should always stay home if they are experiencing even mild symptoms or suspect they have been exposed to COVID-19. Also consider what regulations you will have on wearing masks, common areas and meeting spaces.
  4. Upgrade your workplace to include hand sanitizing stations and spacing guides for areas that have high traffic.
  5. Create a regular cleaning and sanitizing schedule.

Next, respect:

  1. Remember everyone has different levels of comfort and circumstances – establish a community of understanding and respect for employees to express concerns.
  2. Continue to think outside of the box – if we have gotten better at anything over the last few months it is adaptability. When and where possible have back-up plans, or plans to pivot based on individual needs or learnings as you go.
  3. Become an oversharer – check in with your co-workers more than usual, share updates from trusted public health sources and seek those you can share learnings and challenges.
  4. Be conscious of the obligations and stress everyone is managing outside of work – provide opportunities for employees to take breaks and mentally relax throughout the day, as well as address any personal needs that inevitably arise.

This isn’t by any means a comprehensive guide, but hopefully it can help set a path towards creating a safe and respectful workplace.

Benefitfocus has a dedicated page of mental health resources and information that is updated regularly, please take time to read through the blog posts and articles as well as visit our Benefit Catalog to learn more about products available to provide additional mental health support to your employees.


The contents of this blog are for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read here. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 or local emergency number immediately.