How to Support Your Workforce as They Return to the Office Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic
In times of crisis, how companies react can make or break their employees’ sense of loyalty to the organization. Now more than ever, workers want to feel that their employer cares about their health and safety and in turn, will be more engaged and committed to the organization.
As companies begin to return their workforce to office settings after having been deployed to home offices due to the COVID pandemic, it is critically important that leadership address the fear and anxiety many people are feeling about their health and safety in this “new” world.
While companies are certainly implementing the safety protocols established by federal and local health authorities, there are other things organizations can do to foster a sense of safety among employees:
- Encourage flu shots. We have heard that getting a flu shot is more important this year than any other. Did you know that flu shots are generally covered at 100% on most health plans under preventive care? Encourage your employees to get a flu shot or better yet, hold a flu clinic on site. If that’s not feasible, allow employees “free” time off to get one. The easier you make it for your staff, the more they will feel that you care about their health and in turn, them as a person.
- Educate employees on germs and what steps they can take to stop the spread. Did you know that some viruses can live on surfaces for up to 28 days? According to Scientists at the University of Arizona, cell phones carry 10 times more bacteria than most toilet seats. Purchase a UV-C sanitizer like the Vioguard Cubby Plus so employees can disinfect their phone, badge, keys, favorite pen or other items they touch often throughout the day. Adding this extra layer of protection will be appreciated by everyone in your office including your customers. If your business interacts with the public, consider installing one in your lobby as an extra layer of protection for your clients as well.
- Provide personal protective equipment such as masks, hand sanitizer and wipes. If you buy in bulk, consider offering supplies to employees for their personal/home use as well.
- Promote mental health resources. Employees are reporting stress at record levels which can impact productivity, absenteeism, and other concerns. Contact your benefits broker about mental health resources available through your health plan or EAP. Make sure you disseminate this information to all employees and provide links and phone numbers for ease of access for them and their family members. Showing compassion shows you care about their well-being and destigmatizes mental health.
- Respect social distancing preferences and allow employees to choose how they interact with others. Wristband Resources has created color-coded social distancing wristbands that indicate a person’s comfort level from a strict 6-foot distance to elbow bumps to handshakes. By offering the bracelets, employees can easily communicate with clients and other staff without the awkwardness that sometimes accompanies face-to-face interactions during this time. Your workforce will appreciate that you are allowing them to set their own boundaries and this small gesture will convey the message that your organization respects their personal choices without judgement.
- Communicate often and encourage open dialogue with your teams. Build trust with your staff by keeping them informed of plans that affect their job, team, and the workplace. Say thank you often and build compassion into your messages. By doing so, you eliminate uncertainty, speculation, and water-cooler talk.
Showing employees you care about them as a person creates goodwill across the board and even small steps you take will go a long way. As you develop your strategy, ask yourself – “what will our employees say about us when this pandemic is far behind us?” Let your answer be your guide.
Established in 2008 by technology professionals interested in combating Hospital-Acquired Infections (HAIs), Vioguard is passionately committed to developing products and solutions designed to enhance the effectiveness of infection control strategies without compromising productivity or accuracy. Its mission, by working with industry professionals, is to save lives, reduce sickness and stop the spread of deadly pathogens by developing products for infection prevention. To learn more, go to www.vioguard.com.