As your employees begin trickling back into the office, there are several important questions you should ask yourself to make sure you are doing enough to promote the safety of your employees and business as a whole. Take a moment to ask yourself these five questions.
Are You Practicing Social Distancing?
Social distancing in the workplace requires maintaining six feet of physical distance between employees at all times. This can mean having to make significant changes in how you run things. You may need to implement a new, more flexible work schedule, such as one with staggered shifts to prevent overcrowding, or increase the flexibility of the worksite, like providing more opportunities for employees to work from home.
Something that can help your employees with social distancing is requiring (and even providing) face coverings for your employees to wear while in the office to slow the spread of germs. You can also mark six-foot distances with tape to illustrate to employees where they are allowed to stand or sit in the office.
Are You Doing Enough to Clean?
You should ask yourself about the cleaning standards in your workplace and whether they are enough. When it comes to cleaning surfaces, for example, are your procedures effective? You should be cleaning surfaces in your office every day. If you are outsourcing, ask things like, are cleaners wearing disposable gloves while cleaning? Are the products that they are using effective against COVID-19? Surfaces should be cleaned with soap and water, then with a disinfectant in order to kill all germs. The most frequently touched surfaces should be routinely cleaned even more than once a day. These surfaces include light switches, door handles, desks, phones, keyboards, etc. Check to see if you are following pandemic-specific recommendations for keeping your office clean. There is often local guidance that should be followed.
Are Your Employees Staying Home When Sick?
Thankfully, gone are the days of bravado, forcing yourself into work even when you feel absolutely awful. Your employees should not come to work if they feel ill and/or exhibit any coronavirus symptoms. Make sure employees are carefully monitoring their state of health. You could enforce this through mandatory temperature and symptom checks, or you can ask them to keep track of their health on their own.
Do your employees feel comfortable staying home if they are sick? Do you have protections in place such as paid sick leave and the option to work from home to ensure your employees do not feel pressured to go to work when feeling under the weather? You do not want one sick employee to risk the health and safety of your entire office.
Are You Providing PPE?
I’ve seen the wild debates about making employees wear masks and for me, there is no debate. Wear a mask. Require that your employees wear a mask. Provide masks. It is important that you train your employees on the proper way to handle and wear masks. Pay attention to any local laws and guidelines. If employees don’t want to wear one or have a disability and can’t wear one and they can work from home, allow it. If they can’t, remember to use the interactive process for looking into reasonable accommodations. Now isn’t the time to bring down the hammer, try to work through things. Ultimately, you have to do what is right to keep your employees safe and healthy. Have you put the right policies and procedures in place with PPE in the workplace?
Are You Putting Employees First?
Other than just the risk of getting ill, employees may be worried about their financial stability, social injustice, homeschooling their children, and a myriad of other issues. This is most often the part that leaders forget to address, but it can make or break your entire organization. Treating people as people and helping them be OK with not being OK is important. One great resource to put in place is an Employee Assistance Plan. These are typically inexpensive plans that help your employees by giving them free access to counseling and other services that can help with some of the major issues that they are facing in and out of work. What are you putting in place to help ease the burden that your employees are facing right now?
Think carefully about your responses to these five questions. Are there things you need to add or change to your business’s procedures? Making sure your employees are protected through PPE, social distancing, cleaning, staying home when ill, and helping your employee’s mental well being will benefit your office as your employees begin to return.
For more tips on how to be a better executive, sign up for some leadership coaching with us!