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3 months ago by Debbie Lloyd

Are your workers suffering from 'FOMU'?

Canva   Selective Focus Photography Of Open Signage (1)

Most people will be familiar with the term ‘fear of missing out’ (FOMO), however, a new term has come onto the scene which describes the exact opposite of this.

A recent article from Metro reported on the term ‘fear of meeting up’ (FOMU) which was recently coined by the dating app Badoo.

In response to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s lockdown instruction and subsequent social distancing measures, people have been encouraged to stay away from others and to wear protective equipment such as face masks to contain the spread of the virus.

With Johnson announcing the further easing of lockdown measures in England and a reduction in social distancing rules to “one-metre plus”, the public is becoming more and more able to meet others again – of course at a safe distance. Yet, it seems that some people are afraid of resuming normal life meaning that FOMU doesn’t just apply to meeting up with people for social occasions. This fear can be seen in professional life too.

This is supported by statistics from Bupa Health Clinics which found that 65% of employees are anxious about returning to the office. The most common concern was around the safe implementation of social distancing measures (46%), with the potential spread of infection and cleanliness of office premises also high up on the rankings. This research has demonstrated a high level of anxiety among staff when it comes to returning to work, therefore the HR function should think about how they can support colleagues.

What can HR do?

Adhering to the UK Government’s ‘COVID-secure’ guidelines is crucial to ensure that any returning staff are safe in their place of work, but it is natural that some people will feel anxious about going back to work after a long period of being at home.

One way that this can be achieved is by listening to the concerns of employees and acting upon it in a way that can counter their anxieties.

Another way to achieve this is to communicate with staff about the health and safety measures that have been put in place ahead of their return. Cary Cooper, Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health at the Manchester Business School, previously told HR Grapevine that employers should have a re-induction phase.

“What every HR department should be doing now is a virtual video of what the office is going to look before people join it,” he explained. Knowing what to expect when they reach the office will help put their minds at ease, particularly if they have a public transport commute to worry about.

Finally, if lots of employees are feeling anxious about the return to work, HR may want to consider whether it is the right time to bring them back. If an employees’ job allows them to work remotely, and they would feel more comfortable doing so for the time being, then it may be worth pursuing this. Of course, this can be reassessed on a regular basis.