With COVID-19 restrictions easing, the question being posed to many businesses is “when will we require employees to return to the workplace, if at all?”. There is a mountain of information being shared at the moment around what you need to consider in a return to the physical workplace – it’s making approaching the topic quite daunting.
Our Head of HR, Alana Giddy & Senior HR Partner, Louise Alagich recently ran a webinar providing some approachable and realistic recommendations to get businesses started on the road to a COVID-19 Safe workplace. Using their experiences and common questions for our current clients, Alana and Louise shared some tips and tricks that can be used alongside our already available return to work tools.
Louise’s Top Tips:
Be prepared for a second wave
Coming into the winter months and flu season, it is predicted that there is still a likelihood of a second wave of COVID-19. As we are all aware firsthand, the situation can change very quickly over a short period of time, so ensure that you are equipped to deal with this.
You might consider implementing a rule where anyone working from the physical workplace is required to take home their laptops & chargers each day to ensure they are able to work remotely the following day with little or no warning.
Implement extra policies
If your business is introducing new expectations around the way employees conduct themselves, for example, hygiene or social distancing, formalise it in a workplace policy so there are clear expectations around what is expected moving forward.
Check-in on your employee’s mental health
Consider offering external support such as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to ensure your employees are receiving access to support and help should they need it.
Alana’s Top Tips:
Keep your plan agile & continually review and improve it
We are in an environment at the moment where there is constant change. The plan you put in place today will not be the same plan that you’ll need in a month’s time. Restrictions are changing, recommendations are changing, and information is changing so likewise, your plan needs to evolve.
While you can have mountains of policies and procedures relating to your safe work plan, it’s equally as effective to have the same information condensed into a really clear and simple to read format. The COVID-19 Safe Work plan template available on our website is a great tool for this, it’s concise and easy for both managers and employees to view – it would be really easy to update if you ever needed to pivot.
It is so important to review and critically analyse your plan to ensure it is still effective and relevant. This is a new environment for everyone, and you will likely be implementing controls you have never implemented before, so it’s important to go back and ensure those controls are actually effective in practice and that they’re actually controlling the risk you’ve identified.
My tip inside a tip is to use your people on the ground! A great way to analyse the effectiveness of your plan is to gather feedback from those impacted by it – your workplace based employees who are front and centre.
Have a backup plan
Leaders and business owners should have a contingency plan if there is a spike or second wave of COVID-19 cases. Don’t put all your eggs in the return to office basket, make sure you still have the infrastructure to return remote if you need to. Expanding on Louise’s tip, you may want to look at implementing a split team roster to make sure your essential teams are not altogether to ensure business continuity.
Don’t reinvent the wheel
There are some great resources available through a number of channels which you can access and implement immediately.
Safe Work Australia have posters and signage resources, industry associations have industry-specific resources too. And we are here to help too – we have released a number of resources to assist with COVID-19 but if you need an extra helping hand with implementing this or anything else relating to navigating the employment landscape at this time, our team are here to help.
Got further questions? Book a free 1:1 HR Consultation today!
We are currently offering free 30 minute 1:1 consultations with our HR Team, so you can jump online and book yourself in if you do need a little more info.
About Employment Innovations
Employment Innovations is one of Australia’s leading providers of employment services designed to increase productivity and ensure compliance. Its services and solutions include all the tools that every Australian small to medium sized employer needs – including workplace advice, legal services, payroll solutions, migration, human resource management and HR software.
Our partner firm EI Legal provides legal advice and representation.
The information provided in these blog articles is general in nature and is not intended to substitute for professional advice. If you are unsure about how this information applies to your specific situation we recommend you contact Employment Innovations for advice.