How to Cope With Employee Heatlh Conditions Post Covid

By Laura Birch

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Employees with health conditions are often very nervous about disclosing their conditions and sometimes even try to work through them, which is usually very counter-productive. Below are some tips for coping with and accommodating employee health issues.

 

Tip 1: 

 

The first thing to do when an employee discloses a health condition is to always be supportive and non-judgemental. It is important to treat the employee as an individual and not to assume that you know exactly what it's like for them. The pandemic and post-pandemic era will continue to force many employers to deal with employee health conditions, and especially mental and cognitive conditions, that may be difficult to understand and empathize with. 

 

Tip 2: 

 

The second thing to do is to listen and try and empathize with their condition from the first-person point of view. It can be difficult being in a new situation, so asking questions about how they are feeling may help them feel more at ease with sharing information with you.

 

If you don't understand something about their health condition, it is appropriate to ask questions as these can give you more knowledge on the topic. When this happens, be sure to repeat back what you have learnt so that both parties have a mutual understanding of each other's position. For example, "you mentioned you need a little bit more time to recover from your condition. How much do you think it would be reasonable for you to take?"

 

Tip 3: 

 

The third thing to do is to find out what the employee thinks they need in order for them to continue working at their optimum level. You can't assume that everyone will have the same needs, so asking may help create an open line of communication between both parties.

 

It also gives the employee an opportunity to let you know exactly what their restrictions are and how much flexibility they expect from you as their employer/manager/supervisor etc. This will ease tension if it arises later on down the road. For example, "Do you feel comfortable telling me about any specific accommodations that you have experienced in the past, or are you looking for more things to be done on your behalf?"

 

Tip 4: 

 

The fourth thing to do is to offer support and assistance where needed. If the employee is saving up sick leave, for instance, it may be helpful if you can allow them access to their accrued time off earlier than they normally would be able to use it.

 

Or perhaps they need some time away from work; then you could suggest that they go on leave without pay during that period of time. You may also want to think about flexible working hours as having an unpredictable schedule can make some health conditions worse. For example, "I know how important your role is within this company, so I'm happy that we can come to an agreement about your sick leave."

 

Tip 5: 

 

The fifth thing to do is to look for alternatives. If the employee's restrictions are not compatible with their existing role, then you may need to think of other positions that they can fill, particularly if they are coming back from a layoff. You may also want to offer them a phased return or part-time hours within the new position so that they have time to recuperate before being able to resume full-time work. For example, "I'd be happy if you worked on something else while things settle down for you too; I'll keep my eyes out for anything that matches your skills."

 

If there isn't another option for said employee, it might be helpful if you give them more responsibilities rather than less. Some people say that it's good for individuals to have more rather than less work because it means that they will get their job done faster and then have more time to recuperate.

 

Tip 6: 

 

The final thing to do is to encourage the employee once things are back on track. If they are coming back from sick leave or caring duties, help them get back into the swing of things by asking how they are doing or giving them positive feedback if necessary. It's also a good idea to check in with them from time to time about their condition as some people may not know when they need support until it is too late. For example, "I'm really pleased you're feeling so much better now. Let me know if you ever need help or support with anything."

 

You could even go the extra mile to make sure that your employee knows they are appreciated. For example, offering them a gift voucher for their favourite store for sticking through this time would be really thoughtful, and it lets the employee know that you value their work ethic. It's not necessary to do this, though, simple appreciation will suffice.

 

Conclusion

 

Being considerate of employees with disabilities can be challenging at times, but it is an important sign of both good management and respect. By following these 10 tips, you should be able to make the best out of each situation.

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