To continue reading please register or login to your OHW+ account.
With the furlough scheme coming to an end today (30 September), employees returning to work may be feeling anxious and disconnected from the workplace. Anne-Marie Finch considers how fostering a sense of belonging might help with the transition.
As furlough ends, two million UK employees could return to work. For some returners this will be the first time they've worked for over a year, and many will feel anxious and nervous due to a feeling of disconnect between themselves and their places of work.
Already one in three workers have said the return to the office is negatively impacting their mental health, according to McKinsey & Company. This anxiety will be particularly prevalent for many who are starting a new role, and those with teams that have been completely restructured since they last were at the organisation. This group will be trying to regain their footing in potentially unfamiliar industries.
This stress and anxiety can be managed by companies placing an emphasis on “belongingness”, which is the intrinsic desire to belong to a place, person, organisation. By prioritising this concept, organisations can implement a smooth transition for their employees and in time create an open and accepting environment that allows employees to be their true selves.
Business leaders must take the lessons learned over these past months and embrace the fact that their employees all have different needs and each one should be considered – whether someone is an introvert, extrovert or something in between. And in order to do that successfully, belongingness must be at the core of the working environment.
Belongingness versus fitting in
Often belongingness can be mistaken for “fitting in”, even though it is the complete opposite. Fitting in is an individual changing themselves to fit the expectations of others, but belongingness is about accepting an individual as they are.