Around the world, healthcare workers, grocery store employees, warehouse staff and couriers have shown everyone what a vital role they play in society during the challenges we’ve all faced in 2020.
The global economy is stirring back into life and - as lockdown measures ease in some parts of the world - huge numbers of employees are returning to work.
But the world of work they are returning to is very different from the one they left a few short months ago. Phrases like ‘social distancing’ and ‘the new normal’ have become commonplace, many countries have made face masks mandatory in industries like retail and hospitality, and we’re all quickly trying to recalibrate and acclimatize to a COVID-19 world.
Naturally, fear and uncertainty abound. And, while the focus of this has been predominantly on consumers and ways businesses can help them feel safe, secure, and confident - we can’t lose sight of the fact that this is a time full of apprehension for our employees.
As your staff begin to return to work, we can’t stress enough how important it is to look after them, to prioritize their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing, and to put measures in place to ensure a smooth, safe, and secure transition back into the workplace.
Here are four tips - including what we’re doing at Quinyx - on the best ways to get back to work and look after your staff:
Our recent report - The State of the Deskless Workforce 2020 - found one in four deskless workers globally felt their employer did not provide clear communication during the pandemic. Furthermore, a third felt underprepared and said they didn’t receive adequate training on how to do their job under the new guidelines being rolled out as a result of COVID-19.
Communication is everything. For business leaders, especially those in HR, listening to employees, taking action based upon what they are saying where possible, and communicating the reasons why actions are taking place is essential to creating trust in the workforce.
At Quinyx, through the height of the pandemic the senior leadership team had daily briefings and we had weekly company-wide meetings. We also launched our plan for a three-phased approach to returning to work that ensures safety, wellbeing, and business continuity.
Here’s what it looks like:
Our staff are using the Quinyx app to book in time they want to be in the office - this means we can set the number of people we want to have in our offices at any one time and we can easily track who people have been in contact with if they fall sick.
2. Make sure people feel safe
As our CHRO, Toma Pagojute, says: “The two most important questions we should be asking in HR are: "Do people feel safe returning to work?" and "Do they feel they’ll be taken care of should something happen, like if they or a co-worker gets sick at work?" This security and reassurance are what all employees want right now.”
This extends to being sensitive to people’s needs and the needs of their families - whether that’s how they commute to work or how comfortable they feel working from home. We found some people thrive and are extremely productive when working from home but others face a huge struggle not being at their place of work.
Sensitivity, compassion and empathy towards your employees are your best friends.
3. Reduce uncertainty
This links back to having good communication, and the more you can reduce uncertainty in your workforce, the happier and more confident they will be. For shift workers, communicate your schedules in advance if you can and make it easy for people to switch shifts if they need to. It’s also important to give your employees time to adapt to changes.
This is all new and there’s no guarantees you’ll get everything right straight away. Be open, honest, and transparent to make the transition into new ways of working easier.
4. Build flexibility into your workplace
Across the globe, we’re already seeing how quickly new measures are being implemented to control the spread of COVID-19. Measures can be scaled up or down depending on the current situation. It means there’s a huge need for you to be flexible with the number of staff you have working and also that your staff will need increased flexibility as their availability could change very quickly if, for example, a family member is sick.
The State of the Deskless Workforce 2020 report also found half of the workforce surveyed admitted to going into work sick because their schedules lacked flexibility. This number was actually even higher in certain countries, like the USA and the UK. Deskless workers stated to be scared of being fired if they switched shifts with a coworker.
Not only do flexible schedules give you, as an employer, the ability to respond to unpredictable demand, they make your employees happier, lead to a more efficient business and, ultimately, ensure your customers receive a better service. That’s why tools that support flexible working are becoming invaluable. With them, you can use real-time data to adjust schedules immediately and ensure you have the right people in the right place at the right time.
5. Don't forget that a happy workforce means a happy business
With so much fear and uncertainty it’s easy to forget the importance of a happy workforce but it doesn’t stop the fact that a happy workforce means a happy and successful business.
We’re a very social company and the last few months have been tough! We’ve tried to find new ways of keeping our culture strong like holding a mental wellbeing seminar alongside virtual water cooler sessions, virtual yoga twice a week, and virtual afterworks. We’ve also split our office workers in two groups - Rogue Squadron and Jedi Masters - so they can book shifts in the office every other week.
You can read more about how to improve workforce wellbeing here.
The return to work isn’t going to be the same as it was before. The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged businesses and their employees to think and act differently in terms of flexibility, processes and communication. This can also be an opportunity for you to do things differently.
As workplaces reopen, it’s crucial you ensure your workforce receives a safe and flexible return while you, as a company, stay compliant with the latest COVID-19 regulations.
We want to help you balance a safe return to work with business continuity.
See how we can help here.