COVID-19: Helping your people feel safe when returning to work

As exciting as it may be to reopen your business’ doors again, it’s important to take your employees’ thoughts and concerns into consideration. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a huge disruption to everyone’s daily routine, so returning to work could be quite daunting for your people.

If your business has recently reopened, or you’re in one of the industries that’s been given to go-ahead to reopen in England from 4 July, you’ve probably done your absolute best to make sure you people and customers are protected but it’s still important to listen to any concerns your people raise to you.

In this article, we’re going to look at just a few ways you can reassure them that the workplace is COVID-secure and it’s safe to get back to business.

Discuss concerns with your people

No matter how much preparation your business has done in terms of implementing Health & Safety measures, there’s a chance that your people might still feel anxious about returning to work.

People in Britain have become increasingly concerned about returning to work safely during the coronavirus outbreak, new research suggests. According to a poll conducted by the Office for National Statistics , one in five (20%) adults who said the pandemic is affecting their work said they have health and safety concerns. This figure has risen from 11% the previous week.

It’s important to remember that it’s natural for your people to have concerns over their health and safety when they return to work. As their employer, you’re responsible for providing a safe environment for your employees by implementing social distancing and other safety measures.

One of the best ways to reassure your people is through open and honest communication. If your employees have been working from home, or have been furloughed, try giving them a call to check-in, but to also canvas opinion about how they feel about the prospect of returning. It also helps empower people to engage with a culture of Health & Safety.

Communicate your social distancing policy

Having a good social distancing policy in place will reassure your people that their safety is your priority, calming any nerves or anxiety about returning. And remember, it’s important to communicate exactly what is required of people when trying to maintain physical distancing.

Where possible, you should maintain two-metre distancing between people by:

  • putting up signs to remind workers and visitors of social distancing guidance
  • avoiding sharing workstations
  • using floor tape or paint to mark areas to help people keep to a two-metre distance
  • arranging one-way traffic through the workplace if possible
  • switching to seeing visitors by appointment only if possible

You may be well aware that your business can’t reopen unless it’s COVID-compliant so to make sure you’ve got the correct social distancing measures in place, you can download our five-point action plan to clarify what steps you need to be taking.

Include your people in the COVID-secure risk assessment process

Before reopening, every business must conduct a COVID-secure risk assessment, to prove that you’ve taken the necessary steps to make your workplace safe for both staff and customers to return.

One of the most important aspects of correctly carrying out the COVID-secure risk assessment is to go through the process in collaboration with your employees.

Working with your employees’ input on your risk assessment will not only help them feel more secure and valued, but it also creates a culture of active Health & Safety and empowers your people to take Health & Safety measures seriously.

As you’re completing your COVID-secure risk assessment, you may want to assess your need for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and/or Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) – specifically face coverings. If your risk assessment find that your business should introduce PPE/RPE, there are a few things you need to consider:

  • updating employee handbooks to include the use of PPE/RPE
  • proper training so your people know how to use PPE/RPE
  • providing the PPE/RPE to your employees for free

To further prevent the spread of coronavirus, you must also look at how your people are travelling to work, how much face-to-face interaction their role consists of and if it’s not possible to socially distance in some circumstances, what alternative can you offer to them.

Introducing staggered start and finish times

Can you introduce staggered work hours to reassure staff members? Another measure you can take to reassure your people is by looking into staggering work times wherever possible. This helps to avoid any unnecessary contact between your employees and limits the number of people in your building at once.

It’s also worth keeping some of your employees working from home if they can fulfil their role remotely.

You should take all reasonable steps to help people work from home by:

  • discussing home working arrangements
  • ensuring they have the right equipment, for example, remote access to work systems
  • including them in all necessary communications
  • looking after their physical and mental wellbeing

Once you take these steps, your people are more likely to feel reassured that their safety is your priority. Keeping up contact with your employees and regularly updating them with any changes will help them to adapt to their new work pattern. It can be an extremely challenging time for your people to adapt to a new way of working so it’s important you can show your support.

 Citation can help at every step of the way

These are challenging times, especially for employees, business owners and employers. Our team of HR and Employment Law experts provide you with the latest government news to help you work through this transitional period

If you’re not yet a client of ours and you want the advice and backing of a team of HR and Employment Law experts feel free to give our team a call on 0345 844 1111 to talk through your business needs. Or, simply fill out your details in the form opposite and we’ll be in touch as soon as possible.

And if you already are a client? Remember you can call us any time of the day or night on 0345 844 4848, 365 days a year.


COVID-19 five-point action plan

We’ve broken down the five key areas you need to be focusing on right here right now.

Download the guide

Managing the risk of COVID-19: exclusive checklist

Our Health & Safety experts have put together their top tips to help you put together a COVID-secure risk assessment.

Download the guide

Longer-term homeworking: an action plan for employers

A checklist for employers full of key considerations you need to make if your people will be working from home for the foreseeable future because of COVID-19.

Download the guide

Respiratory Protective Equipment & facemasks in the workplace

All the areas you need to think about if your people need to wear facemasks in the workplace

Download the guide

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