As you begin to lead your business out of lockdown and face the challenges it has given you, here is a helpful guide to the steps you can take to unpick those issues:
Firstly: Your workforce.
As you consider who to start unfurloughing, when to bring them back look at your workforce differently. Remember for most people they will not feel the same right now, as they did pre lockdown and that in itself is something we’ll consider later down this post.
Depending on your cashflow and the picture you now face, you may have some really difficult decisions to make. As you begin to assess who you need and what the government guidance means to you in terms of who you bring back and when, be certain to have conversations with your staff about what’s going on.
Earlier this week AirBnB was lauded for the way they handled the, sadly, inevitable redundancy situation they are facing. Their honesty, compassion and communication were paramount to the reputation their brand holds dear. And they handled it brilliantly. Even difficult conversations can be handled well.
Secondly: Infection control.
This isn’t an easy picture to navigate. There are a lot of factors to consider, especially around the H&S of your staff and possibly customers. The HSE has some brilliant template risk assessments and we suggest you use that website as your first port of call. But there are other organisations offering low cost, and easy to manage risk assessments and guidance so they are well worth pursuing.
Remember to consider:
- Social distancing
- Hand sanitisation & respiratory infection
- Managing infected employees
- And finally, can you use video content to demonstrate both the measures you are taking for your staff and possibly customers.
Thirdly: The human side to this and your Operational changes.
This is where you will need to consider your policies. What do you need to amend to take into account the changes we now face?
Sickness absence. As a business you may not be able to afford to alter when sickness payments are triggered but if you can amend them, that extra reassurance that full pay will be paid at least for a few days will really help alleviate worry.
Compassionate leave. It should go without saying that this may now be front and central in many people’s lives. You may want to operate on a discretionary process but you may want to send a wider message about compassion and why you value the difficulties many staff now face.
Death in service & key man insurance. This is a really difficult issue to tackle but you may want to revisit the policies, processes and insurances you have in place to cover this. Uncomfortable though it may feel, the conversation is more uncomfortable if its not addressed before facing the loss of someone in the business.
Emergency Leave time off. For your staff managing family, and the life juggle outside of work and especially in these times, please be realistic. This is not a normal situation and whilst you may have it nailed at home many may simply struggle to get the balance right. This may lead to occasions where they simply have to take time off at short notice. Please be understanding.
Flexible working and working from home. We have already spoken about the need for flexibility when handling home life but here it is vital. What may feel ok for you, simply may not for others. Your need to rush back to normal working life, working a shared environment simply may not wash with others. Don’t make this a watershed moment where you lead with an iron fist, show compassion and flexibility in your approach.
Covid-19 policy. This isn’t something you’ll have thought about necessarily so if you’d like one please get in touch and we’ll happily send you a free template document.
Well-being policy & programme. Your staff may well be very anxious and struggle with the return to work so what you can offer now will make a big difference in reassuring them. It doesn’t have to be costly but it might offer a lot of help and send out powerful messages to your staff. If you have the budget there are some great mental health services available but if you don’t there are some equally amazing free ones such as this https://recoveryandwellbeing.covwarkpt.nhs.uk/OnlineWorkshops.aspx
Whilst it goes without saying that this situation has been difficult for all of us, there is very much a human side to this. It has been a change of unprecedented scales and there is a very real and very human side. Your staff need reassurances that there is stability and they need to be heard. You may feel like returning to work will be as simple as furloughing but for many it will lead to much worry and potentially really logistical issues. Be human and talk to them, ask them what works for them and try to work around that in your planning. Where you can’t work around it, explain and be open but don’t expect to click your fingers and it to return to how it was. For many this has been a life changing moment and with that will come a human cost. Now you need to show compassion.