For companies, the prospect of reopening in a post-pandemic world leads to inevitable changes in the workplace environment, the way people collaborate, commute, interact and more. As employees return to work, all organizations will need to reshape their policies, shift schedules, rotations and many other aspects and procedures in order to minimize their risk of exposure to the virus. This is essential for keeping your workplace healthy and productive.
Irrespective of the size of your workplace, you can take simple yet effective measures to keep your employees safe both during and following a pandemic. And the best thing about these measures is that they are practical, low-cost and relatively easy to implement.
If management shows that it is strongly committed to keeping employees safe, this will not only translate into less sick leave being taken but will also improve productivity, work culture and overall employee well-being. Net, you will see productivity gains. So, let’s start by taking a closer look at the benefits of having a good reopening plan in place.
Research shows that increased levels of anxiety and stress in the workplace take a toll on work performance and job satisfaction. The key research findings from an employee survey indicate that anxiety affects the following aspects of working life:
By implementing protective measures in the post-pandemic period, you are relieving your employees of the mental burden of uncertainty. As a result, stress and anxiety levels will drop, while productivity will spike.
Your conduct during challenging times and the way you treat your employees will pay off years after a pandemic or crisis. If you demonstrate empathy and show that you care about your staff’s health and well-being during challenging times, your brand will thrive, making your company more attractive to top talent.
Moreover, providing your staff with peace of mind and support in stressful times has a more significant impact on your employees' dedication than any loyalty program you could implement. The measures taken now will have a long-lasting impact on work culture, employee morale, and commitment.
Keeping team spirit high is key to boosting work productivity when your organization reopens. Social distancing, lack of communication and the general sense of uncertainty can have a negative impact on teamwork, resulting in more silos and turning employees into solo runners.
On the other hand, the pandemic equally presents an opportunity to build a stronger team connection by actively involving your employees in creating an actionable health protection plan. The collective effort will enhance their sense of ownership and shared responsibility while improving team spirit and collaboration.
Perceived safety in the workplace has a considerable effect on the psychological well-being of your staff. An unpleasant employee experience can affect psychological safety by up to 35%. In uncertain times, employee misconduct may increase by as much as 33%.
To prevent this kind of disruption to employees' morale and unethical behavior, the top management needs to communicate quickly and confidently about the protective measures that have been implemented for the post-pandemic period. Furthermore, you should encourage your employees to report any instances of misconduct and noncompliance with these measures.
There are many ways in which companies can prepare themselves to react to challenging events and periods, such as a pandemic. One of the first steps is to develop and document an actionable plan of measures and policies to keep your staff safe from the virus. Creating and executing an actionable protection plan will reduce your employees' concern about getting infected, which will ultimately boost their productivity.
To create a viable plan that works for everyone, it is necessary to involve your employees and welcome their ideas. This plan should main critical aspects on how to protect employees in a pandemic situation, while also ensuring that the business can continue to run in spite of the extraordinary and unprecedented conditions. Here are some steps that can be taken in this direction:
Keep updating the plan based on experiences, ideas, and developments; this will make it stronger and more effective.
Since any infection is passed from person to person, the risk of your employees contracting a disease can be reduced considerably if you minimize direct contact between your staff and with people from outside. Here are some practical ways to reduce your employees’ exposure to disease without compromising collaboration and their mental strength:
While implementing all the aforementioned measures to keep your employees safe, it is vital to make sure that they have the tools and technologies they need to work efficiently, collaborate and be productive in the post-crisis situation that will be the new, and hopefully improved, normal.
Since people have different working styles and process preferences, and so much will be new, there is a risk of an increase in conflict between team members. For example, some people might prefer email while others may be much quicker to respond to messages via Slack. While this could lead to initial confusion, team leaders can avoid this issue by offering training. Establish ground rules for communicating and collaborating remotely to ensure that everyone is on the same page, thus facilitating the process for all employees.
Times of crisis bring about some of the most memorable situations that will, ultimately, create a lasting impression of your organization. As a leader, you have the power to influence whether this impression will be a good one. Capitalize on this opportunity to demonstrate your ability to lead your employees in times of crisis by putting their needs and health above all else.
Keeping your employees safe from a pandemic is essential to fostering their loyalty, strengthening their work ethic and maintaining productivity. Consequently, it is vital to develop an action plan to be followed both during and after a pandemic. Any organization, whether big or small, can implement practical yet low-cost measures that will drastically reduce the risk of employees contracting a disease.
By communicating clearly about the health protection measures, collaborating, and meeting guidelines, you will successfully reduce uncertainty and anxiety while redirecting your employees’ mental energy towards efficient working and cooperation habits and practices. The post-pandemic plan that your company implements now is likely to serve as a point of reference and long-term perceptions about your firm.