Maintaining a healthy workplace is always important, but it isn't always as hard as it is today. With the media focusing on the approach taken by multimillion dollar organizations, small- to medium-sized businesses can be left feeling helpless, but there are a myriad of free, inexpensive and/or easy steps you can take to protect your employees and maintain a healthy workplace.
Without further ado:
1. Ask employees to check their temperature at home before coming to work and to take the day off if their temperature exceeds 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Disinfect door knobs, time clock buttons, bathroom faucets, and other common areas several times per day.
3. Give staff the opportunity to work from common areas if it improves their chances of maintaining social distance. For example, an employee who shares a small office with another might choose to work from the break room, the courtyard, or even remotely if their job allows.
4. Ask employees who feel sick - even if they just have a cold - not to come to work. Consider allowing them to work remotely, paying them for the day they missed (it's cheaper than work-related exposure for other staff), or allowing them to make up the hours by working longer days later in the week.
5. Encourage employees to get outside and get fresh air during their work day.
6. Consider shutting down water fountains (or closing them off by wrapping in cling wrap) and replacing with inexpensive bottled water for hydration without the risk of infection.
7. Transition from in-person meetings to teleconferences and webinars.
8. Keep an eye out for burnout and have honest conversations with staff who are struggling. Approve time off requests whenever feasible; worn out staff are at higher risk of becoming ill.
9. Rely on your employee assistance program, referring staff who are experiencing anxiety related to COVID-19 or balancing work and home during this stressful time.
10. Consider a physical shutdown of non-essential departments, closing the doors and directing staff to call, Skype, or email for services. This allows internal departments to "work remotely" right in the building without having to buy laptops or install VPN and limits person to person contact in the workplace.
11. Educate employees. A daily or weekly email detailing the CDC's recommendations for staying healthy can promote the right behaviors and calm fears among staff.
12. Be flexible. With many schools canceling classes and childcare facilities closed in some states, flexibility can provide workers with the balance they need to manage their personal and professional responsibilities, limiting stress overall. It might be as easy as allowing employees to adjust their work hours so they come a little later or leave a little earlier.
13. Strategically place hand sanitizer throughout the office. A visual cue can help employees remember to keep their hands clean.
14. Transition away from face-to-face interviews to telephone and video interviews.
15. Give your customers alternative ways to seek services if feasible to reduce employee contact with the public and vise versa.
1 6. Give employees a private space to change clothes before they go home. Many workers are worried about bringing the virus home to their families, and the simple task of changing into clean clothes and bagging up the clothes they wore to work can help ease their fears (and reduce the risk of infection). In the healthcare and other frontline industries, a shower might help too.
17. Customize work based on risk level. Give employees who are in high risk categories (pregnant, over 65, immunocompromised) the opportunity to work in more private spaces, from home, or in roles that require less contact with the public if your organization's structure can accommodate it.
18. Move quickly. If you find out an employee in your organization has tested positive for COVID-19, work to determine who had close contact per your state Department of Health's guidelines and make contact with those people promptly to protect other staff from being exposed.
19. Ask your staff to disclose travel and/or suspected contactprior to reporting to work so you can make decisions to mitigate risk.
20. Ask staff how they're doing and thank them for showing up and stepping up. Acknowledgement and gratitude are perhaps most important of all.
To learn more about leading staff through this pandemic, visit us at Axcet HR today. We're standing by and ready to help.