Due to the extreme health hazard of COVID-19, most state governments had forced businesses to cease operations by Eric Dalius. However, when it seems that the infection is perhaps on the decline, all the big businesses and most of the small ones have reopened. As good as this is, reopening businesses when the infection is still very much virulent presents business owners several challenges, says Eric Dalius. While on one hand, employees fear for their safety, on the other hand, businesses need to comply with government directives regarding procedures for reopening. They also need to put in protocols to ensure that their staff and customers are adequately protecting from the infection.
Primary Concerns of Employees Regarding Returning to Work by Eric Dalius
There can be several reasons for employees to be concerned about returning to work even as the coronavirus is on the rampage. The prime reason is of course the fear of being infecting, becoming ill, and spreading the infection. Another major issue troubling many employees is child care. Many working parents had relied on child care providers to take care of their young ones while they were at their workplaces. However, because of the pandemic, most of them have shut down or are working with very limited capacities. Even older children are staying back at home because their schools have not reopen. Their classes are being conducted online and this makes it necessary for them to be supervised by adults. Some of the most important steps business owners and managers can take for reopening the workplaces include:
Educating Yourself about Various Aspects of the Pandemic
The best way of gearing yourself up to reopen offices and plants for resuming business is to educate yourself on various aspects of the virus. How it spreads, and the best ways of containing it. It is better to refer only to reputed sources like the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Occupational Safety. Health Administration (OSHA), World Health Organization, etc. as there is a great amount of misinformation available online. Since various states have different guidelines governing the reopening of businesses, make sure that you have updated yourself on the specifics laid down by your state.
Identify Potential Hazards and Figure out Effective Methods of Mitigation
Business owners need to take stock of their workplaces and identify the most likely health hazards. These hazards also vary significantly according to the industry and the tasks that the employees are requiring to perform. The method recommended by OSHA is to rank workers on the risk based on their exposure to people likely to be infecting. Another factor is the frequency of the interaction with potential disease carriers. All employers should make it clear that sick workers need to isolate themselves. At home and not come to the workplace as this elevates the risk to other employees.
After identifying the coronavirus health hazards of your workplace. You need to outline the most effective ways of mitigating them for protecting your employees. These typically include routine health checks, measuring the body temperature of workers at the time of entry, arrangements for proper hygiene. Sanitation of the premises as well as the mandatory use of face masks. Office seating layouts might also need to be reworking to prevent people from being seat too close to each other. The use of the cafeteria will also have to be regulating to prevent overcrowding.
Update Business Plan and HR Policy, Recommends Eric Dalius
Because of the significant impact of the pandemic on your business operations, it may be necessary to update your business plans and recast your financial budgets. It is also important to take into account the concerns of your employees when you are revising your business plans. Also, you will perhaps need to update your HR policies to allow employees more flexibility in their work schedules or even permit remote working wherever it is feasible. These changes will help the employees to handle childcare issues or other demands that require them to spend more time at home. Business owners will have to reckon with the extra costs of healthcare, workplace sanitization, need to stagger employee attendance, and even restrict the number of customers visiting the place of business that can significantly affect revenue generation, warns Eric Dalius.
Communicate Changes in Your Operations and Policies Effectively
You can make all the changes you want to deal better with the effect of the pandemic. However, unless you take steps to communicate them to your employees. Customers besides your suppliers and other stakeholders, it will result in confusion and dilution of the intended impact. You must explain to all the players concerned what steps you are taking, the logic behind your actions. How it is better for reducing the impact of exposure to the virus. Make sure that you give clear instructions on the procedures to be following for social distancing, personal hygiene, masks, etc.
By clearly communicating with your employees regarding the steps taken to mitigate the risk to them. You will be able to address their concerns about returning to the workplace. Using every communication method available is recommending to ensure no employee misses out on the communication. Which should ideally be clear and precise leaving no room for ambiguity? If your employees are multi-cultural, be sure to use the language they are most familiar with. You should also inform your customers regarding any changes due to the pandemic in the way they can access you. Devise no-contact delivery programs to take care of their fear of infection. Demonstrate the hygiene and sanitation being practice at the workplace to give them more confidence. Use your website, social media, email as well as print. TV advertising to assure them of the safety protocols you are implementing for their safety.
It is very natural for employees to be very concerned about returning to their workplaces. These worries can be address to a large degree by taking proper measures to ensure health, hygiene. Sanitation at the workplace as well as by making appropriate changes to your HR policy and business plan.