Do you have staff who have been on furlough, working from home or laid off? Do you want to make sure that they come back to work feeling safe and motivated? If so, here are some things that you might want to think about.
To deal with all aspects of supporting people at work, I have used the three levels of contracting. This framework covers all the elements that need to be considered when we undertake a piece of work with others. Dealing with each of the elements means that we can reduce uncertainty and free people up to focus on achieving good outcomes.
See to all the Practical arrangements
The first thing is to make the workplace physically safe. The best place to find information to help you do this is the government website. You can find that here. www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19
Let your team know well in advance of their return date what you are doing to secure the workplace and check any concerns and ideas they may have.
You might also want to let your customers know in advance of opening what steps you have taken to protect them and your staff.
Consider all the Professional aspects of the workplace.
You will probably have to alter the way you work due to requirements of social distancing and sanitisation. If you can, involve your team in walking through your processes and procedures. Look for any areas that might be a problem for you, your team, your suppliers (if appropriate) and your customers.
Talk to your team about how they will need to work. Check that they feel confident and skilled enough to carry out any new procedures and make sure to organise training if they do not. You could also ask them if they have any specific skills that would be especially helpful in the new circumstances.
Do not ignore the Psychological impact of lockdown
Covid-19 has been a massive disruption to people’s lives. Even for those people who have not experienced loss or been sick themselves, there is fear and worry. The CIPD reports that: “In relation to mental health specifically, employees were reporting reduced motivation, loss of purpose and motivation, anxiety and isolation”. Employers have a duty of care to protect the health and safety of people at work and this includes their mental health. Here are some tips
1. Tell staff in advance of returning to work what they can expect the workplace to look like, who will be there and who will not be. This will help them form a clear mental picture in advance and make the transition back to work easier.
2. Check-in with staff regularly. How they feel, what concerns or anxieties they have. Keep the communication channels open. Do not assume once they are back at work for any worries will go away. Uncertainty will continue.
3. Think about your staff’s circumstances and the impact this might have on their work and performance. They might be worried about loved ones, they may be the only breadwinner now, they may be concerned about the viability of your business. All these factors might affect their willingness to come back to work or their motivation once there.
You can help by:
a. Finding out what their concerns are and where possible mitigating these.
b. Being clear about the new rules and procedures that they must follow
c. Making sure that you act as a role model for the behaviours that you expect from your team.
d. Putting in place policies that encourage work \ life balance.
e. Keeping an eye open for any changes in behaviour or signs of stress or anxiety in each of your employees and offering support. This might take the form of referring them to an employee assistance program, making changes to their working arrangements or providing one to one coaching.
f. Encouraging employees to connect with each other, perhaps by having online forums. This might be especially important for situations where some people are still working from home.
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