As the government continues to discuss who is to go back to work and how this can be implemented, business owners have the challenge of weighing up the practicality of bringing staff back whilst continuing to manage them remotely.
We are all in new territory and with ever-changing guidelines, it can be difficult to prepare and adapt to new working policies. While it is still urged that anyone who can work from home should, there are still aspects we need to take into consideration for our employees.
No matter what size your team is, there will be some who are struggling more than others and those who have greater concern for themselves and family. Expectations are changing and it is important to adhere to these within reason.
Maintaining a contented workforce will not only make sure your staff are looked after but will raise productivity levels, therefore ensuring the best results for your business. But exactly what are the most common staff expectations during COVID-19 and how can you meet these?
Ease Working From Home
It may not be possible for you and your staff to remain safe in the office and that’s why 38% of full-time staff that can, are now working from home.
This change isn’t easy for periods of time, even those who are used to remote working. This is why it’s important to implement new policies and technology to make this as effortless as possible.
Working from home can lead to the contest of keeping everyone updated with current projects and processes. Innovative cloud hr software can easily tailor a programme that keeps all your HR functions in one place, including on-boarding, payroll, absences and time tracking.
Video conferencing should be encouraged, this not only gives a great means for communication, but it also gives a sense of normality and much needed social interaction at this time.
Maintaining a Safe Environment
This should be at the forefront of every company’s priorities, no matter what industry you are in. However, it is more important than ever in the current situation.
If you are an essential service or perhaps your staff are unable to work from home and new guidelines mean you are now looking to reintroduce staff to the workplace, health and safety should be the first element to consider.
The staff could naturally be apprehensive about returning to the workplace and they can’t be blamed for this. Can you realistically maintain social distancing, are your suppliers able to provide you and your staff with PPE and hand sanitiser, whilst giving offices a deep clean on a daily basis?
Looking into staggering shifts, breaks and creating one-way corridors to prevent as much contact between people as possible.
Before opening the premises doors to your team, show them what you have implemented to reassure and allow discussion for any changes. This also ensures that everyone knows exactly what is expected of them to preserve these new policies and each other’s health.
Keep On Training
Active staff training should be encouraged wherever possible. This could be ongoing from previous sessions or new coaching to keep staff busy during quiet periods.
It may seem like an impossible task while not having everyone in the same building or even on different working schedules.
There are plenty of online training courses available for every sector. Choosing courses with a CPD accreditation ensures the course consistently provides high value, providing greater benefit to the employee.
Not only will this benefit the business with more knowledge among your team, but it also shows staff that you care about their personal development as well. Demonstrating to your staff that you want to grow their skillset will not only aid the business, but also encourage a greater sense of loyalty and morale amongst the group.
Keep An Eye On Mental Health
The pandemic has presented new troubles and we don’t know for sure what the long term effects will be.
It is not just the physical health that has been impacted during this time, many are now suffering from diminishing mental health. Worry, loneliness and anxiety of the unknown are growing throughout the population.
If you didn’t already have a policy surrounding mental health, this is the time to create one. Provide resources for those who need it, this could be access to counsellors via video chat, web links to information for help and guidance or simply a friendly ear to voice concerns and vent.
Remember, not everyone is willing to admit they need help and support, so make information available freely and anonymously. This could be on shared cloud software where views aren’t tracked.
Flexibility and Understanding
It is more crucial than ever to have flexibility and understanding for your employees. What affects us in one way can differ hugely with another.
Parents are now having to juggle child care with homeschooling and full-time jobs, others are looking after vulnerable family members and having to take on essential shopping for more than one family unit.
This can take a toll on the best of us and it is important to acknowledge this. Your daily or weekly video meetings may not be attended by everyone, others may fall behind on workloads due to other commitments.
Don’t punish those who do need to take care of others, similarly, some may not have these commitments but their mental health state could be having a negative effect on their workload.
Work with these employees to come up with a solution that works best for them and this will ease a lot of stress in the long-run and lead them to appreciate your management even more.
If you are now returning staff to the workplace, work alongside staff with children who are not back at school or nursery to come up with a solution and be prepared for them to have some concerns about returning immediately.
While these choices may not suit you, if they have a viable reason for not returning to the workplace, this should be respected. The more we ensure safety to all, the sooner we can get back to business as usual.