As COVID-19 Restrictions are Eased
On the eve of restrictions being eased in stages across the country, as employees forced to adopt to telecommuting for the very first time head back to work, and as you, the employer, gear up for having staff return onsite, it’s going to be critically important to manage how the conversation, and return, goes.
Now is the time to finalize your welcome back plans, and to ensure everyone’s using the same playbook, in terms of letting employees know how valued they were, and still are.
Before Employees Return to Work
Once you know your workplace/company has been ‘cleared’ to bring back your workforce – whether piecemeal or fully – you should initiate a communications plan directed at your returning employees; it should be fact-based, honest, and thankful. Everyone on your team needs to know where they stand, when they can return to work, and what to expect when they get back.
As you consider how to normalize and stabilize your workforce, perhaps you’ll choose to create a new employee recognition program that celebrates, recognizes, and rewards returning employees. You may choose to use a specific suite of tools for this – for example, those offered by Recognize – as have major employers like Metrobank, the Better Business Bureau, and many others do. Or you might want to build on or augment a program you already have in place.
All your employees, from executive to senior management to administrative staff to people in the warehouse, need to know how much you relied on them and valued their contributions during the pandemic crisis. Begin to remind them you appreciate their service as you plan for their return, and do so before they are back in the office. Personal conversations, where possible, are best: if you can phone them, do so. Remember, a personalized thank you, with specifics, can go a long way towards employee loyalty and team pride.
Making the Case to Return to the Physical Workplace
We have included this for two reasons. First, some employees may not want to return to the office, workplace, warehouse, or lab. Such employees – maybe those who were new to working from home – may believe or have discovered they work well from home. So why return to the workplace? Second, many of your employees will still be experiencing the trauma from the pandemic, and they may be apprehensive about returning.
Of course, many employees will have eagerly been awaiting a return to the workplace.
Prepare your employees beforehand for rejoining with the physical workplace.
Factoring in How the Pandemic Affected Your Business and Employees
According to MarketWatch, employers have been, and are continuing to make proactive decisions that will guide them as the crisis subsides, and a return to work begins. Among the findings are gems that you, as an employer, can keep in mind as restrictions ease and your employees return to the company buildings:
- People will need to have their needs met. There’s bound to be trauma surrounding a return to workplace normality, and employers need to keep this in mind.
- Consider investing in or augmenting existing employee healthcare plans. The pandemic may have been very costly on your contributions to employee healthcare. For returning employees, it’s essential they know two things. Firstly, they’re still being looked after. And secondly, there is a plan for any potential disruptions like this in the future.
- Support for employees. You’ve probably been keeping in constant dialog with your employees, whether regular telecommuters or those new to that world, since they began to work from home. On their return, many employees will seek assistance and additional, ongoing emotional support.
As the most trying time our current workforce has faced in our global history is receding, you, the employer, are presented with an excellent opportunity to reaffirm how much you value your employees and can chart a more robust path forward. The tough challenges in successfully orchestrating a full return have similarities to restructuring your company. Now is a great time to strengthen your core values and to honor your workforce.
If you need some advice at this critical time, make sure to contact us.