As the roadmap out of lockdown progresses in the UK, companies are exploring ways to ensure that as they get back to normal, everyone remains safe and secure. The how and when of staff returning to work must be considered in line with government regulations, as well as business and personnel needs. This is an unprecedented situation and will no doubt bring with it a host of new challenges.
There are a number of things for businesses to consider before re-opening and in this short blog series we’re going to cover some of the key points.
1. What processes need to be in place to ensure the workplace is COVID-secure?
So, you’ve taken the decision to re-open; that’s excellent news, but what measures are you putting in place to show that your workplace is COVID-secure?
Employees and customers are going to need confidence about coming back, so are you being clear about what your essential requirements are, as well as what is important for your business?
For instance, will you expect staff to wear face masks and restrict sharing of common spaces or equipment?
If staff do need to wear face masks, how will you handle those who object, both for themselves and for their colleagues? How are you communicating these changes in working practice to your staff, and do they understand what is required of them?
Maybe you need to think about staggering working hours?
2. How and when will staff be asked to return to work?
Should everyone return at once, or in tranches; and how far should personal circumstances of individuals be considered? Hopefully, the majority of staff will be happy to return to work as usual, however some may not. If they do have concerns, how will that impact the business process for returning to work, what are your plans for managing that scenario?
During lockdown many people have had a change of lifestyle, and found they appreciate being at home more because of the time they save on travelling and are able to spend with family instead. Some people will be keen to return for the social interaction in a business location, but others will have grown to like being able to dress more casually and take a coffee in their garden with more flexible working hours. Some may, for very valid reasons, not feel safe about returning to the workplace just yet.
If some people are reluctant to return to work, that may impact the colleagues who do return. If some staff are required to work from home part of the time, it’s important to consider their working environment at home and their wellbeing going forwards. Ensuring staff are engaged with the process of returning to work will help to establish what is expected and prevent hassle down the line.
3. How will the use of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) be tailed out and what will the impact be on business profitability?
As staff come back to work the CJRS will be phased out and businesses will need to take up the slack on salaries and overheads. However, it’s likely that there will be an interim period before customers return in force, hence business profitability could be affected.
Considering employment contracts and perhaps adjusting for flexible hours for those returning to work. This could help with a potentially slower growth of business demand and secure jobs for the future.
Some companies may need to recruit new staff and contracts of employment should be reviewed with potential future changes to working patterns; most will need to spend more on sales and marketing to boost their business generation and with increased business, new processes for managing productivity and onboarding may need reviewing. It’s worth having a chat with your accountant and HR professional about options for tailing out CJRS and either releasing or recruiting in line with business opportunities. Remember, employment legislation is still in force.
By getting your processes and requirements clearly explained with good HR support, you can avoid many of the potential pitfalls of bringing/not bringing people back to work. If you would like help with any HR matters, we’d be delighted to hear from you.
Soon, we will cover performance management and remote working challenges. Please like our social pages or connect with us to get the latest information going forward.