By Joe Blattner
COVID-19 pandemic has stirred a lot of mixed feelings among people, one of them being fear. People are afraid to get out of the house and go to school and even work. However, among the most affected people are business owners. Amid the pandemic, business owners are having a hard time persuading their employees that it’s safe to return to their workstations.
Coronavirus has impacted everyone’s life differently, and even though some employees don’t have a problem returning to work, others don’t feel comfortable doing it. With this in mind, it’s ideal to have a pandemic preparedness checklist for your business. Here are a few ideas of what you can do to convince your employees to resume work.
1. Reassure good hygiene
After the workplace is cleaned, it’s vital to ensure it is sanitized so that your employees feel safe. While everyone needs to play their role in this, you must make them feel you are doing your part as the employer.
You can start by asking the high-ranking employees to lead by example. Ensure everyone washes their hands and follows the CDC’s guidelines, like wearing a mask properly or sneezing into your elbow or tissue. Once employees see the high-ranking employees doing this, they will most likely follow in their footsteps.
Furthermore, you can hang flyers in the common areas to serve as an extra reminder. Here are some of the things the fliers can include.
- Not reporting to work if they feel unwell
- Sneeze or cough etiquette
- Coronavirus symptoms
- Handwashing habits
Your pandemic plan should include having items such as paper towels, hand wash, tissues, hand sanitizers, or disinfectant spray or wipes, and of course, face masks.
Keep the hand sanitizers in the common areas and the office so that employees remember to use them.
2. Encourage your employees
It’s understandable why your employees may be anxious about returning to work. They fear that they might catch the virus. Besides encouraging good hygiene, you can assure them about your business continuity plan for the pandemic. This obviously includes the different measures you’ve incorporated to ensure their safety, such as the following.
- Having a COVID-19 emergency response plan in case, an employee is exposed to the virus.
- Restructuring the workstations to attain social distance
- Effecting health screening measures
3. Transparent communication
Communicate with your workers frequently utilizing various communication means. If you plan on sending safety-related texts, incorporate an encouraging message to inspire them. Make sure you show your appreciation for their commitment amid this pandemic.
As part of your workplace pandemic preparedness plan, ensure you express your gratitude to your employees and make it known to them that the management will hear them out and address any problems they might have.
Give them adequate channels to air their concerns through HR or management. Once your employees feel that their concerns are being taken seriously, they will be more comfortable resuming work.
4. Incorporate flexible work schedules
Amid this pandemic, most of your employees have been working from home. This makes it quite difficult to ask them to come back to work. To convince them, you can have them work part-time from home and come to the office part-time. Moreover, you can integrate alternated shifts, where your employees have different start and finish times.
You can have several workers report early in the morning and go back home by noon, and the rest report in the afternoon and leave in the evening. This is handy in reducing crowding in the office to ensure that your employees are safe.
5. Offer mental and emotional support
During the coronavirus pandemic, many of your employees may be straining with the fear of coming back to work. You must show your workers that their emotional and mental health is essential. You can achieve this by offering them emotional and mental health services for free.
6. Integrate childcare services
As part of your pandemic preparedness strategy, consider offering childcare services. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to most day-cares and schools being closed.
This stresses out working parents since they don’t know where to leave their children. With these services, they will be comfortable knowing that their kids are being looked after. Also, they may feel more motivated to resume work.
If you are unable to provide childcare assistance, you can go with flexible or alternating work schedules.
7. Enticing return to work policies
For those of you who don’t offer your employees hazard pay, medical insurance, and/or paid sick leave, it may be time you start doing so. This pandemic has left your workers facing many problems and offering these motives can really help encourage them to resume work.
While you are a business owner, and this pandemic has left you counting your losses, it is essential to also understand where your employees are coming from. To have them resume work, you have to make them feel that their safety is your priority by taking measures to protect them.
Joe Blattner is the CEO of CleanRated, LLC, makers of the online program CleanRated. CleanRated is an easy and actionable way to follow occupational hygiene and safety protocols and communicate to your employees, customers and other stakeholders the actions you are taking to keep them safe.