Although it's essential to follow worker protection laws, return to workplace policies during a pandemic requires innovation.
What new strategies can be used to be more effective in the new environment at your workplace?
How do you effectively integrate new procedures that help your business and employees effectively adjust?
Learn more about how you can facilitate a well-managed return to work after COVID-19.
1. Examine Your Worker Protection Laws
There is a myriad of laws and acts which exist to keep work safe for your employees and you.
2. Create an Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan
When creating an infectious disease preparedness and response plan, you should first consider your level of exposure. If your employees do not need to return to their workplaces or offices to perform their responsibilities effectively, then do not put them back in the workplace. Developing an effective plan is a straightforward process if you follow these steps.
Examine possible sources of exposure for any people going to work in the office.
Follow federal, state, and local recommendations for contingency plans and the possible side effects of this.
Prepare necessary infection prevention measures.
3. Conduct a Hazard Assessment for Work Safe Protocols
Your hazard assessment should examine levels of exposure, based on a few factors. Whether people going to work are exposed to the general public, customers, or co-workers or not will increase and decrease your hazard levels.
Consider non-occupational exposure hazards, such as visited locations outside of work. Address individual risk factors, especially those persons predisposed to transmitting or at-risk of catching the virus.
4. Update Policies for Employees' Workplace Reoccupancy
Your new workplace policies should certainly address the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) and pandemic procedures, but should also discuss some expected changes in the workplace.
Address that you anticipate people avoiding going back to work in the office, especially with the inconvenience of new policies. Emphasize the need for social distancing and consider staggering work hours or rearranging the office layout.
Make a note of employees willing or able to receive cross-training for those people going to work versus those employees still working remotely. Explain who your employees can turn to for resources and information, as well as how their work will likely be different than usual (i.e., supply chain interruptions or delivery delays).
5. Introduce PPE and General Cleaning Procedures
Depending on the risk of exposure for your employees, you should consider a series of necessary infection prevention procedures. These solutions are straightforward and easily implemented when done correctly.
Encourage regular and thorough handwashing of both people going to work and customers.
If your employees are ill, advise them to stay home.
Support covered coughs and sneezes, as well as receptacles for tissues.
Discourage the use of shared office materials or property that belongs to other employees.
Regularly disinfect common spaces and personal areas, as well as often touched surfaces (e.g., door handles, light switches).
The minor housekeeping practices can make work safe and help you manage a more straightforward workplace reoccupancy for your employees.
6. Communicate New Safety Measures to Staff
When communicating new safety measures to your employees, explain the flexibility of sick leave policies, mainly to decrease the likelihood of transmitting diseases unintentionally. Additionally, highlight your willingness for flexibility with those employees who have children or family members they take care of.
Provide training for any new policies put into place to ensure workplace safety. Review the introduction of necessary housekeeping procedures and any more in-depth adjustments, such as new office layouts or staggered work hours.
7. Assign Workforce Reoccupancy Personnel for Information
Your employees will have several questions about new workplace policies. Assign a qualified member of your team to oversee the addressing these concerns. Your employees will most likely inquire about:
- Payment schedules
- Paid time off and sick leave
- Safety and health concerns
- Other issues related to changes
Taking the time to designate a team member to this role will provide consistency in information shared, as well as facilitate a smoother transition. It will also show your employees that you care about them being informed and "in the know."
Getting Back to Work Safe and Sound
GB’s Health and Wellbeing Program can support your organisation to take a proactive and preventative approach to improving the health and wellbeing of your employees, thereby supporting them during the reoccupancy transition.
Our program provides mechanisms for early detection of, and response to, health and wellbeing risks; supports the promotion of wellbeing and a 'help-seeking' culture; and provides the capability to improve and maintain the physical and psychological wellbeing of all employees.
For more information and insights into how GB’s Health and Wellbeing team can support you and your team, follow this link.