Managing an anxious team

(19 Posts)
UserID779 Sat 13-Feb-21 15:01:31

I’m new to managing so I could do with some advice. I manage a team of 10, four members of the team are very anxious about being at work because of covid. I have already got one team member off with anxiety.

We are going well above the government guidelines with regards to making our work place Covid secure. I’ve also spoken to these team members at length about what I can do to support them in work. I’ve recommended they speak to our occupational health department too.

It’s got the the point where their demands are becoming unreasonable. I really can’t do more than I’m already doing but equally I don’t want other members of my team to go off with anxiety.

Any advice would be gratefully received.

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fluffi Sat 13-Feb-21 15:12:42

What things are you already doing other than following Covid secure guidelines? What are they asking for to feel more comfortable? Do you think they’ll feel better once they are vaccinated?

UserID779 Sat 13-Feb-21 18:22:26

I’ve made adjustments to the way we work, I have them working in two in offices that could easily fit 10 socially distanced staff members.

I’ve introduced temperature monitoring of all staff members when they arrive at work.

I arranged for our offices to be risk accessed by our company doctor and upper management team.

I introduced a policy where we have to wear face masks at all times except when seated in our work areas.

I have refer one staff member to our occupational health team, I’m hoping she might be able to access more support that will help with her anxiety.

They want to work from home which is just not an option.
They want me to arrange it so their each in an office of there own. I simply do not have the space to do this.

Honestly, there is nothing I can put in place to relieve their anxiety.

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UserID779 Sat 13-Feb-21 18:23:12

Yes, I do feel having the vaccination might help. One of them should be eligible to have hers soon

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ScottishStottie Sat 13-Feb-21 18:24:48

For what reason is it not possible to work from home?

mildlymiffed Sat 13-Feb-21 18:29:37

If it's an office based job is there a particular reason it can't be undertaken from home?

LApprentiSorcier Sat 13-Feb-21 18:34:14

Do they all have to be there at the same time - just wondering if you could stagger shifts (or at least offer this) to reduce numbers in the office at any one time? If WFH is totally out.

What is your gut feeling about this - does it stem from genuine Covid anxiety, or is Covid being used as a channel for other anxieties or sources of discontent?

All you can do if genuine is manage it through the usual channels for MH issues - which it sounds like you're doing with the OH referrals - and follow your absence management process if they go off sick.

If you think Covid anxiety might be a front for other issues, that's something you'll need to explore with the team members individually - speak to them separately rather than as a group, as there is more chance they will open up.

If it's a non customer/client facing office, the risks are quite low as long as they are following the rules in all areas of their lives - compared to, say, working in a supermarket - but this is a time of hyper-anxiety for everyone so I can see why some of them might be stressed.

TooManyAnimals94 Sat 13-Feb-21 18:43:19

Sounds like they all need to get a grip to be honest. Covid has been around for over a year now, why are they suddenly anxious about it?

queenofthelamas Sat 13-Feb-21 18:50:42

I've got a real mix of team members. Some think covid is nothing more than a cold and is happy to be in everyday, some are the opposite (including myself to an extent) where the thought of being in an office with other people is scary.

It's not helped by the fact that there is no reason we cannot work from home but my manager won't allow it.

Why can't they work from home OP?

hopeishere Sat 13-Feb-21 19:07:34

They just realise you can't give them their own office though!!

My colleague is also v covid nervous!!

UserID779 Sat 13-Feb-21 19:12:22

Although the work is done in an office the computer systems we need to use can not be accessed from anywhere other than site for security reasons.

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UserID779 Sat 13-Feb-21 19:13:55

I think one of them definitely does struggle with anxiety anyway and now covid has just pushed her over the edge.

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TheProvincialLady Sat 13-Feb-21 20:32:37

Once you’ve hit this stage the only option is to say to these individuals that you’ve made all reasonable adjustments and the workplace is COVID secure. They can either choose to come in and do their job, or not. If they don’t come in and do their job you will follow your organisation’s policies to manage that. There is nothing else you can do and it’s not in your gift to relieve them of every anxiety. You have to accept the limitations of your role.

fluffi Sat 13-Feb-21 21:26:11

@UserID779 have your they been working in the office throughout then?

I think companies with more than 50 employees can get access to rapid tests now? www.gov.uk/get-workplace-coronavirus-tests

It would reduce the likeihood of someone being in the office and asympotmatic so might help their anxiety a bit?

If they want offices of their own, would perspex screens around their desks, potentially creating individual cubicles work?

Muchtoomuchtodo Sat 13-Feb-21 21:33:07

What’s the situation with office cleaning and ventilation?

Can the have screens around each workstation?

Staggered working hours to reduce the number in at any one time?

Other than that it sounds like you’re on top of it and they either need to do their jobs with support from occ health if needed, or be signed of sick. If that’s the case, be sure to follow company policy to the letter.

Levithecat Sat 13-Feb-21 21:38:24

As well as just reasserting that you’re following guidance etc have you spent time with them as a group airing concerns, building cohesion, some wellbeing activities etc? People’s feelings about covid are very personal. Sure you’re already on it, but I would focus on acknowledging how difficult it is for everyone, listening and then trying to agree a way forward as a group.

UserID779 Sat 13-Feb-21 21:47:48

Each office is cleaned and sanitised each night and we do have screens.

We work in an industry that cannot shut down under any circumstances and so we’re doing everything we can to prevent an outbreak on site.

I have had 1-2-1’s with each team member, I’ve made it clear that my priority is their well-being. We do have team meetings as well and we’re a close team so I think people do feel able to discuss concerns etc.

I do think I am going to reach a point where I have to tell them there’s nothing more I can do and the only option is for them not to work.

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chocolateoranges33 Sat 13-Feb-21 22:05:28

I agree with @TheProvincalLady. You have my sympathy. I have similar issues with some of my team. Covid secure workplace too. After offering support & making realistic changes I've referred to Occ Health. All reports have come back as fit for work with no additional adjustments. Conversations had with HR too. I am now stating that if you choose not to come in, you are in breach of contract and disciplinary action will follow. There's nothing more that can be done. Please speak to your manager/HR for support with the next steps. Good luck.

UserID779 Sun 14-Feb-21 15:23:08

Thanks for the advice.

I think that’s definitely the way I will need to proceed. I’ll have a chat with my manager tomorrow and see where we go from here. I suspect you’re correct and involving HR will have to be my next step.

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