As we look to regain some form of normalcy in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses are preparing to open their doors and bring their employees back to work. Many states are taking a phased approach to reopening following mandates defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and each employer’s ability to reopen will vary depending on industry, location, and other related factors.
It is important to keep in mind that employees may have reservations about coming back into the workplace. As you prepare to reopen your business, here are some steps you can take to help ease concerns throughout the transition, and reassure your employees that their health, safety, and well-being are your top priority.
Consider hiring a professional cleaning service.
You may want to hire professionals to deep clean everything before bringing people back. Their high-grade products will kill more germs – and knowing this has been done will provide needed reassurance to your employees.
Space desks and other workstations farther apart, if necessary, to maintain social distancing. You may need to repurpose conference rooms or common areas to allow people to spread out more. Or consider staggering schedules and/or days to ensure appropriate spacing.
Encourage proper hygiene.
Make it easy for employees to practice good hygiene through communication and keeping plenty of supplies on hand, including face masks, disinfectant wipes, and spray, hand sanitizer, hand soap, paper towels, and tissues. Hang posters and signs that remind everyone to follow such essential precautions as:
- Sneezing or coughing into a tissue or their elbow.
- Washing their hands frequently and properly.
- Staying home if they feel sick.
- Being familiar with COVID-19 symptoms as the virus likely will not be totally eradicated as workplaces reopen.
Screen Workers and Visitors.
Follow state and industry guidelines on workplace screening before allowing employees and visitors into the workplace. While a pandemic situation does allow you to screen employees before they come back to work (e.g., temperature checks, health screen questionnaires), be mindful of privacy regulations. Also, remember that screening is no guarantee that a person is not infected or contagious.
Bring people back in stages or let them continue working remotely.
Your company should be prepared to have some employees push back on coming into the workplace again. You will need to be prepared to have these transparent conversations with your employees about their comfort level and reassure them of their safety.
If possible, bring your workforce back in stages. Where possible, enable employees to continue working remotely, either full-time or part-time, especially if this fits their personal preferences and needs. This will help limit the number of people on site.
Rethink your policies and procedures.
Start by reviewing and updating your leave policies to encourage employees to remain home when they feel sick, as well as to address any new state or federal leave requirements due to a COVID-19 related reason. Federal requirements for extra leave are defined in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. States may also have additional leave requirements.
Monitor and restrict the number of non-employees on-site, including customers, vendors, and any outside visitors. Limit meeting room capacity and take other necessary precautions such as eliminating waiting areas or adjusting seating to ensure proper social distancing. Require customers and visitors to wear face coverings. Wherever possible, continue to hold meetings virtually rather than in-person.
Support people’s mental health.
Sheltering at home or being in quarantine during the pandemic may have affected your employees’ mental health. Show empathy and have resources ready to help. Increase employee awareness of available resources such as the Company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or other free resources including mental health hotlines and local treatment centers.
HR Works Can Help
Contact HR Works for additional COVID-19 resources for your workplace, as well as assistance with reopening your workplace or any other human resource needs during this crucial transition and throughout the year. Most importantly, stay well and healthy! #InThisTogetherv