As we experience lifting of government mandated restrictions related to COVID-19, businesses are beginning to reopen. This means employees are starting to transition from their home office back to the work environment. Employees have been out of this environment and routine for months now. This disruption to the life we had known will take time to adjust to. And we must consider how our employees have been impacted by quarantine. Ultimately, we need to consider how employee health has changed.
We have all been more isolated than ever before. We have been facing higher stress, anxiety and mental health and well-being challenges. As we begin moving back to an in-person work setting, these health challenges will not simply disappear. So while this transition occurs, employers must consider how they can make returning to work easier and safer for employees.
What can be done as your workforce transitions out of quarantine and back into the work environment?
And how can you prioritize your employee health?
Rethink the Office to Protect Employee Health
Make changes to your workspace that allow for social distancing. Also, organize your space to limit employees’ exposure to health hazards. Review the CDC’s recommendations for developing hazard controls.
- Use methods to physically separate employees in areas where groups are possible.
- Replace high-touch communal items with single-serve items.
- Improve the ventilation in the work area.
- Prohibit any close contact and limit occupancy in elevators.
- And enforce social distancing and outdoor seating.
Practice Proper Hygiene and Sanitation to Protect Employee Health
Think about how you can provide a cleaner and safer work environment for employees. Now ask, what can you do to optimize cleaning and sanitation practices?
- Everyone should be washing hands for 20 seconds throughout the day. If handwashing is not available, sanitize with effective solutions.
- Provide employees with general preventative recommendations. This may include:
- Routine cleaning for frequently touched surfaces
- Wearing PPE when cleaning
- Drying surfaces thoroughly
- Using house-hold cleaners, correctly
Provide Flexibility with Employees
Maintaining a flexible approach is necessary in helping employees navigate the transition back to the office. Employees may have difficulty finding child care. Or they simply may not feel safe or comfortable returning to the office just yet. Employees may be struggling to cope with returning to an environment where they feel they are at risk. Therefore, a flexible work approach should be considered. This can be achieved by offering flexible work hours or extended ability to work from home (if possible).
Provide Wellness-Based Incentives and Wellness Programs
Employee health and wellness is more important now than ever before. And managing stress and promoting overall wellness is key to maintaining a strong immune system.
A wellness program is the perfect way to promote employee health and wellness. And the benefits of wellness programs are numerous. While this is true, cuts to these programs may seem like an easy way to save your business money in the immediate future. However, investing in employee health and wellness is more important now than ever. Workplace wellness helps reduce employee stress and improve productivity. Additionally, it ultimately saves companies money in the long run. Wellness programs can help employees:
- Reduce COVID-19 risk factors
- Promote health, strengthen the immune system, and avoid illness
- Reduce stress, lessening distraction on the job
- Cultivate strong mental health, allowing employees to focus more fully on their work responsibilities
- Improve eating habits, helping employees gain natural energy and focus
- Improve your employee benefit package and make your workplace more attractive to new hires
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your complimentary wellness consultation. And learn how you can offer wellness strategies to your employees.
Offer Individual Support and Counseling to Support Employee Health
Make mental health a priority for employees. Studies have shown that there have been significant psychological impacts as a result of the pandemic. These impacts include increased fear and anxiety, among others.
So be there for your employees. Offer individual counseling for all employees to be able to get the help they need. Do you have an EAP in place? Contact us to learn about our counseling options.
Offer Financial Wellness Education
While employees may have been able to work virtually, they may have faced financial hardship from a spouse that has lost a job. Or they may have faced large medical expenses. Consider offering financial wellness education to empower employees to improve their financial strategies and overall wellness. Show employees that you will be there for them in any way you can. Evolution Financial Group provides individuals, families, and businesses with insurance, financial planning, investment management and retirement income strategies that align with each client’s unique needs, goals and vision. They provide financial wellness for groups and individuals. Visit their website to learn more. Email us at email@example.com and we can introduce you to one of their financial professionals.
Effectively Communicate with Employees
Now that you have safe guards and precautions in place to protect your employees, communicate your efforts. Outline the steps of reopening for your employees and highlight the changes that have been made. This allows employees to feel a sense of security and know what to expect upon returning to work. Additionally, outline expectations for social distancing and protective gear such as face masks/coverings. Help ease employee stress and uncertainty by keeping them informed and remaining open to questions and suggestions regarding reopening.
Transitioning back to the office can be scary and stressful for employees, but you can help make it easier. ADP has put together return-to-work checklist that you can review for more tips. For additional ideas on how to prioritize employee health as you return to the office – or to book a wellness event – contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember, as employees return to work, the top priority should be focused on their health and wellness.
Written by Heather Schissler, B.Komplete Office Assistant