As companies plan to welcome their workforce back to the office, store, or factory, owners and managers should place a premium on employee safety. As the scourge of the COVID-19 pandemic begins to recede in many states, business owners search for safe business practices, and COVID-19 resources, to allay worker fears.
As the workforce returns, companies are taking some proactive steps towards creating a safe environment. OSHA offers guidance that both large and small companies can implement in preparation for a staged opening.
Depending on the size of your company, appoint a key person or team to handle all work-related COVID-19 concerns. Such issues include proper distancing, drafting liberal leave policies, and exploring options such as staggering shifts to keep total building occupancy down.
Additionally, draw on your key managers to determine which employees and departments are essential. As conditions improve and employees adapt to the new workplace, slowly bring the rest of your workforce back on board.
If you have employees whose children's school closed down, consider offering child care or flexible work hours for those employees. Such support will go a long way in easing some of the stress your employees are feeling.
The First Step To Returning To Work
As soon as employees approach your building, you have your first opportunity to show them that you prioritize their safety. Consider implementing RFID tags and other touchless entry systems to minimize contact and the spread of germs.
However, your "hands-free" policy doesn't need to end at the door. Kronos has developed InTouch that not only acts as a time clock but also provides employees with all of the information that they need to enhance productivity. Since each employee would have their own InTouch, you can successfully avoid unintentional contamination from punching a time card or entering a key code.
Additionally, provide hand sanitizer or wipes at every entrance and throughout workstations. Your workers will go through several rooms (shop floor, office, restroom) and will touch countless surfaces (door handles, desks, pens) throughout their day, so providing easy access to cleaning supplies will help keep health and safety at the forefront of everyone's mind.
Furthermore, update your employees on the steps you have taken to ensure their safety. Be sure to listen to their concerns and suggestions, and try to implement as many as possible. More often than not, they will suggest something that you hadn't thought of.
Training and Prioritizing
As with any workplace change, working in a new work environment requires some training. Beyond the initial unveiling of your new policies, be sure to provide ample resources and periodic training to ensure that these protocols can be consistently met.
Ask employees to clean their work area before and after each workday, and place posters in all restrooms showing the proper handwashing procedures. These types of reminders will instill new behavior and encourage better adoption.
Discourage "water cooler" conversations to maintain social distancing, and adopt company messaging or email rather than hold in-person team meetings.
Remember that procedures that work well in the office may not translate as well to factory or warehouse situations in your company. If two people are required to run a piece of equipment, supply them with appropriate protective wear to prevent cross-contamination. When possible, separate factory work areas with sheets of Plexiglas so that employees can still see one another to communicate, but not be in direct contact with one another.
Ultimately, you need to take into consideration your unique work environment and employee needs to ensure that their health and safety are prioritized. If that means refocusing your processes, do it. Accept that you'll need to allocate time for disinfecting surfaces, putting on the proper safety gear, and properly training your employees.
You can always increase productivity later. Right now, keeping your workforce healthy and safe is your first priority.
If you are an Arizona-based employer, or perhaps just looking for more information on COVID in regards to your workplace, Inflection HR can help.
At Inflection HR, we want to help take some of the pressure off of managing your employees. To learn more about how our human capital management solution can streamline your HR processes so you can focus on the health and safety of your workers, contact us today.