Last month we witnessed the welcome return of outdoor hospitality, non-essential retail, and other businesses such as gyms and hairdressers.
And next week we are preparing for further restrictions to be lifted, which will allow indoor dining and more relaxed mixing with friends and family.
As a result, post-lockdown haircuts and plans for the weekend have become popular topics of discussion. The better weather, along with opportunities to socialise, have certainly had an impact on community well-being.
With the speed of the vaccine rollout, we are hopeful that things will only continue to get better from here. More businesses and services are expected to return next month in line with the phased lifting of lockdown restrictions.
For employers, thoughts are turning to a smooth and successful return to work.
HR checklist for a smooth re-opening of your business
If you are getting ready to re-open your business or get “back to normal”, whatever that may be post lockdown, it’s important to consider the following for a stress-free restart.
Managing back-to-work anxiety
No doubt you are keen to get back to business, and for that you will need your team ready and engaged to get stuck in. You may find that some employees can’t wait to come back, they’ve missed their colleagues and routine; whilst others could be apprehensive about a return to the workplace. Social distancing is still in place, after all.
It’s likely that you will be dealing with a mixed bag of emotions from your employees during this time. A way to manage this is to communicate your COVID Secure risk assessment with the team, reassuring them of the measures you have taken to protect their safety at work.
You can also provide lateral flow tests and require staff to use these prior to starting their shift.
Employee voice is pivotal in this process. Be sure to listen and address any concerns raised regarding the return to work. For those finding it particularly tough, targeted support such as an Employee Assistance Programme can provide confidential counselling and improve workplace well-being.
Managing non-compliant employees as you re-open
Maintaining a COVID Secure workplace is a legal requirement. You’ll need your team onboard with this and so any new rules and processes, along with the consequences of failure to comply, should be well communicated early on.
Equally, a bitter employee who is not so keen about returning to the workplace can spread negativity if left to fester. Seek to resolve the source of their complaints with a private chat, but if it gets complicated, remember that we are here to help.
Managing absences during the reopening of your business
You’ve planned rotas, brought back employees from furlough and organised who needs to be in when. If only it were that simple!
Whether it’s sickness absence, self-isolation or a childcare emergency, absences happen.
To stay on top of absences, make sure they are all recorded. Absence management software can be a time saver here and keep your payroll informed.
Consult your absence management policy, which may need updating to consider COVID-related absences, to take appropriate actions.
If you know it’s going to be a busy time, consider overtime, flexi-hours or temporary staff to make sure that you have enough cover to hit the ground running.
Managing conflict resolution during times of high pressure
From being closed for months to suddenly having queues out the door and a diary full of bookings, this is looking to be a very busy time for some customer-facing businesses.
Conflict can arise during times of high pressure, whether internally or as a result of a difficult customer. Employees are going to need reliable reporting lines and supportive management in order to work well. Keep the communication flowing during busy times so that you can catch any issues before they escalate.
Additionally, signage and announcements can improve communication and lower the chances of misunderstandings leading to difficult situations.
Making sure your HR admin is in check
Sometimes dealing with the day-to-day that arises from people management can take up a lot of your time, leaving the paperwork to pile up.
If you have made significant changes to your business, contracts, handbooks, and policies may need a review to keep you compliant. If you’re overloaded with other work, outsourcing this to your local HR Dept is a good idea.