Returning to Work During a Pandemic
We’ve all been affected one way or another by the COVID-19 pandemic. Small businesses have been some of the hardest hit, as many were not deemed to be essential and were forced to close. Some were able to work from home. Regardless of what your pandemic strategy was, businesses are opening for business, and we thought it would be a great opportunity to discuss what to expect from your staff during this confusing time.
Risk Management Goes Both Ways
Business owners tend to focus on their business, which is what you would expect them to do, but their business usually involves other people. When they start handing out mandates that they think will help the business, the other people involved (the employees) may not share that view. That is because most workers want to do well at work, but they leave the health of the company to the people in charge of it.
When you recall all the people that have either been laid off, or working from home, back to the office, you should consider for a moment what is going through their minds. First of all, for the people who were laid off, they are probably thrilled to get back to work. Even with government subsidy over the past few months, most workers will take home as much or more in salary than they do when they aren’t working. For the group of workers who were working from home, however, they will almost certainly hate coming back to the workplace. This is because to them, COVID-19 is still going strong and they are scared of getting sick. To them, the risk isn’t worth the reward.
That’s why you need to explain why you are calling them back…and mean it.
If your staff has been busting hump for you over the past three months from home, and your only reason to recall them to an office environment where they (think they) have a much better chance to get sick is because you don’t trust them working from home, expect some pushback. Ultimately, you are the captain of the ship, but making fast and loose decisions (or decisions that seem fast and loose) with other people’s health, expect to squelch a mutiny or two.
Don’t Open Just Because
Seriously, if your staff is working well enough from home to keep revenue at a place that allows you to keep your doors open, why bother bringing your staff back to the workplace? Obviously, if you need people to man the store, you can’t just stay closed, but for office workers that can do their job from their favorite chair at home, why even consider exposing any of them to the anxiety and anger that goes into that? If it's to bump up productivity, consider that many businesses shut their doors and will never reopen. At least your business isn’t losing you money.
If You Have to Open, Preach Safety
Many businesses that were deemed essential, haven’t closed at all. People still go to work, they wear a mask, they try to wash their hands as much as possible, they try to stay away from their co-workers or customers. If your business is one that needs to be open to sustain itself, be sure to emphasize safety. That means doing all those things listed above.
Moreover, you should do what you can to keep your employees safe. You should provide hand sanitizer, soap, masks, and all the other resources they need to improve their piece of mind. Scared, angry people that are preoccupied with getting sick aren’t productive workers. Do what you can to ensure that if you need them to be out in harm’s way, that you take the steps necessary to protect them.
Mental Health During a Pandemic
All the changes that people have had to make to gain some semblance of normalcy during this time have taken a toll on their mental health. If you are going to recall your non-essential staff at this point, you will want to make sure that you have some type of system in place to deal with the anxiety and fear your staff will inevitably have.
Finally, some organizations have created certain considerations for workers that aren’t extended to the entire workforce. The first way to cause a rift between the people your business depends on most is to play favorites. COVID-19 has affected everyone, and some people have certain circumstances that can be handled, but for the most part, you’ll want to avoid creating company wide mandates that divide the workforce.
Getting your employees back to work is important, but if they have been working the entire time, it may not be the best time to bring them back to the office. If you want more information about technology solutions that can help you stem the tide of COVID-19, call us today at (508) 622-5100.