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How to Prepare Staff to Return to the Workplace Post-COVID-19

Changes to lockdown restrictions have had a significant impact on the public sector. As lockdown measures change and organisations look to gradually reopen, employers need to plan how they can return to the workplace in a way that cares for their people. 

From keeping up-to-date with the latest news to undergoing preparation training, here’s how to get started.

 

Keep Up-to-Date With Government Guidelines

COVID-19 has had a huge impact on how we all work. Organisations have had to manage and lead staff while working remotely. The Government has emphasised the relaxation of lockdown measures and any return to normal working life will be on a phased basis. You’ll have obligations to ensure the health and safety of both your employees and visitors to your premises. 

The Prime Minister announced that from 1st August 2020, the Government’s advice for England on going to work changed: ‘“Instead of Government telling people to work from home, we are going to give employers more discretion and ask them to make decisions about how their staff can work safely”.

For organisations who decide to return to the workplace, employers must consider detailed risk management approaches to safeguard employees' health and minimise the risk of infection. Employers must continue to base any plans for returning to the workplace on up-to-date Government and public health guidance.

Implementing a carefully considered return to work plan and updating it in line with ongoing guidance will be critical.

Employers have discretion from 1st August 2020 to decide if all staff in office-based businesses who can work from home should carry on doing so or whether they’ll return. These guidelines are, of course, subject to change and employers must keep themselves fully up to date with the current situation, including local outbreaks. 

 

Re-Induction Process for Return

It’ll become increasingly important to encourage and support every manager to have one-to-one return meetings with every employee, with a key focus on health, safety and wellbeing. 

Managers need to have a sensitive and open discussion with every individual and discuss any adjustments and ongoing support to facilitate a successful return to the workplace. 

This is especially important for those who have been furloughed and should cover topics such as changes in company services or procedures, as well as any agreed changes to their work duties or tasks. Some staff may require a phased return to their full role or want to discuss a new working arrangement, especially if their situation has changed because of the pandemic.

 

Devise a Return to Work Plan

To get ahead and ensure readiness for staff returning to work, employers need to engage early on with their stakeholders to devise a plan. It should also include those individuals responsible for health and safety, facilities and HR.

Given the priority for every business is managing a safe return to the workplace for staff, it’s going to become vital to work in close collaboration with your health and safety and occupational health teams wherever possible.

Continuing to monitor the effectiveness of the policies and procedures you have developed is necessary, so is revising them from time to time. Regular surveys where staff can make suggestions for improvements and/or raise concerns is advisable.

 

Foster Inclusive Culture 

Most importantly, it’ll be essential for every employer to ensure the organisation culture is inclusive. Every employee needs to feel they’re returning to a supportive and caring environment.

The pandemic has had an impact across the workforce in many ways, as different groups of employees will have been affected in diverse ways according to their job role and individual circumstances. 

Some organisations will have people who have been furloughed on different pay, while others may have continued to work or even had increased workloads as a result. 

The fluctuating nature of people’s work, personal experiences and the challenging nature of the lockdown means there could be potential for some negative feelings.

Therefore, it’s important the organisation cultivates an inclusive working environment and is sensitive to any underlying tensions. Communication with your staff is key. Keeping people informed of what your business is doing – whether it’s good or bad news - will give them some degree of security in very uncertain times. 

Knowing they are valued and supported by their employer – and that you continue to prioritise their health and safety – will be pivotal to their wellbeing.

A guide such as this cannot possibly cover every business situation, but it should help you think about the sort of issues that all businesses will need to consider as restrictions begin to be relaxed and employees return to work. 

 

Take Appropriate Preparation Training Today

When planning and preparing your staff’s return to work, you’ll need to learn techniques to energise and motivate your staff before they do. Delivered over Zoom, our course ‘Planning and Preparing Staff’s Return to Work'’ helps you and your staff to prepare.

During the course, you’ll be guided through essential key planning and preparation stages to help you phase your staff’s return to work. Attending this virtual course will help you to identify and overcome the challenges returning to work will bring. Sign up today and learn how to work more effectively Post-COVID-19.

 

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