8 Essentials for Supporting Your Employees as They Return to Work
Many businesses are preparing for a partial reopen or maybe a full reopen on a skeleton crew towards the end of June, early July. If you have deemed it safe to do so, then you may be one of the business owners preparing for the unknown.
While the government has released guidance and support for businesses when it comes to the safety measures they need to implement to reopen safely, there hasn’t been much advice on how to handle employees. This is crazy when you think about it as employees are the backbone of any business; they’ve been massively impacted by Covid-19 whether mentally, financially, or physically, and they will need the appropriate support to get back on their feet.
To help business owners protect their staff as they prepare to reopen, here are a few essentials for supporting your employees as they return to work.
1. Stay closed as long as you can
Do you truly need to have your employees back at the office? How much of a difference would it really make? If you can stay closed for the time being, do. If your employees can work effectively from home, then this is the best way to keep your business afloat and your employees safe.
The transition period is going to be a long and slow (not to mention, painful) process and with a potential second wave looming over us, it’s smart to embrace the digital aspects of business to ride through the storm.
2. Acknowledge your employees’ fears
If you have to open up as soon as possible, don’t forget that people are scared. Your employees have potentially been home for 12+ weeks with no social interaction, so they may be terrified of being around people again and worried about getting sick.
One of the best ways for supporting your employees as they return to work is to acknowledge their fears. Explain to them why you have decided to reopen your doors, why you are requiring employees to work on-site rather than remotely, and what you are going to do to keep them as safe as possible.
3. Provide masks and other protective equipment that’s needed
It is your duty to protect your employees so if you are requiring them to come back to work, you will need to provide the appropriate protective equipment. There are many businesses now, working to produce this equipment for workers, so purchase a batch to hand out to each employee and provide them with masks and visors (if needed).
Government guidance on what safety measures businesses need can be found on the Gov.uk website. To read more about protective measures for your staff, read our full blog here: Returning to the Workplace Guide: How to Keep Your Employees Safe
4. Provide additional employee support
Supporting your employees as they return to work doesn’t stop at PPE. Many may have lost family members and friends due to Covid-19 and many weren’t able to say goodbye to loved ones or even attend a funeral. As you can imagine, this has resulted in thousands of people not being able to grieve properly so it is essential that employers prioritise mental health support during this time.
To cater for this, make sure your employees have a mental health professional or services available over the next few months at no charge to them.
5. Make your employees feel essential
Start treating your employees as essential because they are! As we said previously, employees are the backbone of every successful business and as the pandemic is nowhere near ending, business owners are going to need them now more than ever to help get through this turbulent period.
By treating your employees as essential – e.g. ensuring they have protective equipment to make them feel safe, allowing them to have more flexibility with sick leave/annual leave to care for their children and/or loved ones, and in some cases, increasing their wages – you will see a massive impact this has on their wellbeing, their motivation, and their loyalty to the business.
6. Don’t make employees without children bear the brunt
Many businesses are selecting their skeleton crew based on whether their employees have children or not. For example, workers with children at home can continue to work from home but everyone else is required to return to the office. While this is great to ease the pressure off of families, it can send the wrong message to employees who don’t have children, primarily that they have ‘less value’ or are ‘expendable.’
This obviously is not the case at all and you’re looking at supporting your employees as they return to work, ALL employees, regardless of their circumstances. If your business was running smoothly when everyone was working from home, keep it that way. If you need some staff to return, then make sure that they are compensated or rewarded accordingly.
7. Inform employees immediately if someone gets sick
Honesty is the best policy, so if someone in your business gets sick and tests positive for Covid-19, you need to tell your employees straight away.
By doing this, you can minimise the spread sooner rather than later as it ensures that employees will be extra cautious again while you implement further safety measures (e.g. staggered shifts). While you cannot disclose who it is that has tested positive, you can disclose how many people have, what departments they work in, and what times they were working.
8. Listen and communicate more than you think is necessary
In a time of such uncertainty and panic, don’t underestimate the power of communication. Your employees have potentially been at home for 12 weeks now, socially distancing, so this has bound to have taken a toll on their wellbeing.
When they return to work, listen to their concerns and communicate. Your employees will be able to tell you if these safety measures are enough or whether there are issues. If you don’t make yourself available to your employees, then you won’t be able to pick up on and resolve any safety issues quickly. At this time, it’s also essential that you communicate everything that you’re doing to protect your employees and why. Not only will this reassure your employees but it will make sure that they actually adhere to these measures too.
Prepare to support your employees as you open up safely
If you genuinely can’t run your business remotely and require your employees to physically come into work, you need to create a safe workplace and provide more support for them during this time.
It is your responsibility to ensure the safety and wellbeing of your employees, so using these 8 strategies for supporting your employees as they return to work, prepare for the reopening of your business now so that you can protect them moving forward.
We can help protect your business and your future
As part of helping businesses make it through this difficult time, RGM Security is partnering with other local South Wales businesses to provide security to businesses at risk. If you or someone you know is struggling at this time, please contact us; we can help to ease the pressure whether it’s offering advice and recommendations or providing extra security during this uncertain time.
01792 293 249