Now that many states are loosening lockdown restrictions, companies are carefully developing plans to bring employees back to the office safely. Employers will have to strategize everything from configuring schedules, seating plans, elevator usage, and food delivery to minimize contact and avoid the virus’s transmission. Apart from the logistical and operational planning to accommodate employees’ physical well-being, employers must also prioritize their staff’s emotional and psychological needs.
Most people are feeling a degree of anxiety right now because of all the uncertainty surrounding the virus. Recent surveys have found that employees are worried that their employers will ask them to return to work before it is safe. Unfortunately, many organizations don’t know how to approach this. If you’re considering reopening your workplace and bring your employees to the office, there are safe ways to do so. Here are 4 recommended ways for management to help employees safely return to the workplace:
1. Prioritize Your Employees’ Well-Being
Many employees recognize that returning to the workplace could jeopardize their health, especially if there aren’t enough safety protocols in place. As such, they want reassurance from management that their well-being will always be the top priority, especially in uncertain and challenging times.
For starters, you can demonstrate your commitment to employee safety by routinely disinfecting the office. Be sure to also provide updates as these measures are done, in order to show your employees you genuinely care about their well-being. Your company may also choose to offer hazard pay for frontline workers, as Costco did. By putting your employees’ safety at the center of all your decisions, they’ll feel more inclined to return to the office. You can also consider morale coaching to find ways to assure your employees and help them feel more comfortable about physically reporting to work.
2. Disseminate Accurate, Transparent Information
Sharing accurate, verified information in a time of rampant misinformation is more important than ever. Maintaining a consistent and clear communication line from management to employees is also crucial in alleviating anxiety—the more they know, the less worried they’ll feel.
Employees reportedly regard their employers more positively when they regularly receive updates from their companies. They’re also more likely to feel proud to be a member of the company since it shows that the organization is invested in keeping everyone informed of critical developments. As such, management consulting recommends that employers prioritize the timely dissemination of information to alleviate such anxieties and help them feel more confident about returning to work.
3. Implement Recommended Public Health Measures
Employees trust public health experts like the Centers for Disease and Control regarding guidelines and measures, especially on reentering the workplace. If the CDC says it’s not yet safe to return, but the employer insists that it is, employees are even less likely to feel confident about going back to the workplace.
However, if your organization focuses on following public health measures, your employees will feel more comfortable returning to the office. These include sanitizing and cleaning work areas, asking sick employees to stay home, implementing flexible sick-leave policies, providing personal protective equipment, and promoting personal hygiene. They will also appreciate the company screening all employees before returning to work, as it will give them peace of mind that the office will remain a safe and COVID-free place.
4. Be Flexible
We live in unprecedented times, which means it’s hard to predict scenarios and prepare for what may happen several months from now. As many companies have worked from home for most of the pandemic, they have realized that it is possible to continue being productive even outside of the office.
However, employees expect this flexibility when offices reopen, especially if they care for children or sick family members. They may feel worried about their ability to juggle both, making it crucial for organizations to stay flexible and accommodate the many different arrangements brought by COVID-19. Large companies like Twitter and Facebook have migrated to a mostly remote model, which you can consider. You can also maintain a hybrid workforce to report to the office, while others can choose to work remotely. Ultimately, your decisions must alleviate the anxiety your employees feel about their mental and physical health.
The Path to Safely Reopen
Reopening during the pandemic isn’t easy, but it is still possible. By following these tips, you can create a safe workplace your employees will look forward to returning to while taking care of both their physical and psychological well-being.
Leadership for Companies Who Want to Grow
Raghu Chittimalla is an IT executive and successful entrepreneur who can help boost employee productivity and morale, helping your company thrive even in difficult times. I also help organizations with entrepreneurship, recruitment and hiring trends, and successful business strategy. Contact me today to find out how I can help you grow!