Greenville, SC Chapter of theSociety for Human Resource Management
My company is beginning to work through a return to work plan for our employees. We are concerned some employees will be fearful to return to work, even with extra safety guidelines in place. What are your strategies once you begin call backs for your employees?
Good question and one that we are working through at this time. I would suggest that you put together a cross functional team that represents facilities, leadership, HR and employees to plan for this return to work. The cleaning/disinfecting is a concern so a strategy for this needs to be developed and communicated. PPE worn in the workplace will need to be supported for a period of time and if possible supplied by the company. Training on how to self-monitor personal condition such as taking a temperature before coming into the workplace and for those that are older and/or vulnerable to continue to have work from home opportunity until they can feel comfortable transitioning as state guidelines open up. Also consider some form of EAP with a counselor for employees to contact and talk through their fears and get assurances and comfort to manage this difficult time. This will not be forever so the little care and expense now will make a real cultural difference for the company in the long-run.
We have remained working as an essential industry. I know there are a lot of best practices out there. What has worked for us is communication - weekly, I draft an update from our CEO and I send weekly (and, initially, more often) communiques about (1) the virus itself, the guidelines for employers and people, what we are doing to meet or exceed those guidelines, (2) wellbeing during a crisis to address the mental toll, (3) new orders from the governor and so on. I make sure to mention that we have had no one on-site to test positive. Our CEO was able to give a first-hand account of having tested positive and using our drugs for his symptoms, which was really helpful (note: he lives in NJ). We hung posters, we limit visitors to business essential and pre-screen them upon arrival assuming that we have in advance their company's response to the pandemic, etc.
People are scared and we as HR are their frontline when it comes to getting questions answered, even it is what we know at the time and I always say that. They just want reassurance.
I wish you much success!
It is good to have a mechanism in place for reporting symptoms and isolating those who are possibly infected. There is also the need to maintain medical info confidentially (positive cases, temperature readings, etc.). I agree that communications are critical -- managers need to know their responsibilities and how to manage in a drastically changed culture -- and employees need to know the processes that have been put in place to protect them (and also what their responsibilities are for social distancing, reporting symptoms, possible exposures, etc.).
PO Box 5202
Greenville, SC 29606