Lockdowns are lifting across the province, and many employers are looking to welcome employees back to their work environments.
As more team members return, though, you’ll need to put an increased emphasis on safety. You must be concerned with government mandates, but providing increased safety measures will also give you and your team members peace of mind in the coming months.
How can you demonstrate safety in your workplace post-COVID? This guide offers some tips to help you get started.
Start with Policy and Protocol
Creating new policies and protocols should be your first step. You can include these documents in onboarding packages for new hires, make them accessible in an online employee portal, and post them in prominent places around the workplace.
Making the information easily accessible and available is key to having team members follow protocol. A colourful poster near the door of a staff kitchen can, for example, remind people about how to safely use this common space.
You could create quizzes or other methods of testing protocol knowledge. An example might be creating an app that you ask team members to log in to daily. There may be a daily question, or a weekly quiz that workers can complete to demonstrate their knowledge of your protocols. This can help you determine if policies are being communicated well, or if improvement is needed.
Offer Personal Protective Equipment
This can be as simple as ensuring that hand soap is always available in the workplace bathrooms. Making hand sanitizer available in high traffic areas, offering masks or gloves, and other protocols can help to demonstrate safety for your employees.
Making this equipment available for them encourages use. If it’s easy to grab a mask, then it’s much easier to ask employees to remember to wear one. If there are no masks available, you’ll likely see a drop in compliance. The same is true of using hand sanitizer or hand soap.
Lead by Example
If you want your team members to wear masks, then you should wear a mask too. When your team members see you taking your policies seriously, they’ll be more inclined to follow along.
If, by contrast, you don’t wear a mask, or don’t follow social distancing rules, then your employees are less likely to follow them. Some employees may also feel unsafe, as they might believe you’re not serious about protecting their safety.
Improve the Physical Space
Changes to the physical work environment are next. Place tape or social distancing markers on the floor. You might close off certain workstations, or install barriers to ensure employees are safely apart.
You can take precautions such as changing air filters, opening up windows, or otherwise improving air circulation in the building. Investing in deep-cleaning sanitization services or scheduling the cleaning crew more frequently demonstrates your commitment to safety.
Clearly communicate changes and, if possible, demonstrate them for employees. This will help them understand you’re taking their health and their concerns seriously.
Encourage Testing and Time Off
It might seem strange to encourage your employees to take time off, but this also demonstrates your commitment to safety. If employees may have been exposed to the virus, are showing symptoms, or are awaiting test results, ask them to stay home. If possible, offer them the opportunity to continue working from home.
If an employee has been exposed to the virus, encourage them to seek testing. Give them the time off to ensure they can get tested and remain at home while they await test results. You should inform other employees who may have been in contact and also encourage them to receive testing.
You could ask employees to perform testing on a regular basis. If anyone shows symptoms, they should be tested and remain at home until symptoms resolve.
By taking these steps, you can demonstrate safety to everyone you work with and keep your team members safer.