While many companies and individuals are still working remotely and some have even shifted over to that way of running their business on a more permanent basis, sometimes it’s just not possible to avoid you and your staff physically going to work. Whether you work in retail, the food industry, construction, or an office and have to have your employees come in on a regular basis, it’s important for everyone’s health, safety, and peace of mind that proper precautions are in place. Aside from wearing masks and enforcing social distancing, there are a few things that you as a business or an employer can do to ensure your own safety, your business’s safety, as well as the safety of those around you.
When you need to have staff coming in daily, semi-regular COVID-19 testing might be a good idea in order to be as sure as you can that there is no chance of an infection at your workplace. This test8ing could be voluntary or perhaps mandatory, depending on regulations in your area and your personal preference within your business. You could choose to have an onsite testing station or request that employees have their tests done regularly at a healthcare institution or at home. If your employees are hesitant about getting tested regularly due to the invasiveness of the swab, consider trying a saliva test kit at your workplace, which is safe, accurate, and painless.
Minimizing the amount of staff at work each day is important. It might take a bit of trial and error to figure out the minimum number of people you need to come in to keep things running smoothly on a day-to-day basis. It’s important to ensure that the number of employees in the building at any given time does not compromise the social distancing regulations – don’t forget to account for potential visiting clients or customers.
Limiting staff may cause problems for businesses that have many employees or staff members. A good way to combat this kind of issue is by alternating days on which certain staff members come in. You could try a one-day-on, one-day-off approach or perhaps implement shifts if that model would be appropriate for your business. Chat to your staff and find out what they’re comfortable with and what would be the best move forward for everyone involved.
Although most people are familiar with COVID-19 regulations by now, many people have been working from home or not working at all for the past year. Offering health and safety workshops in order to train staff could be a good addition to your arsenal. These workshops could provide information on how to safely handle clients, customers, and stock or how to safely provide services. You can even source companies that provide workshops on mental health management assistance during the pandemic.
It could be a good idea to host these workshops online wherever possible, especially in the case of a larger staff. This will ensure that all employees are comfortable and able to take part and benefit.
Most business owners take pride in their workspace looking spick and span, and probably have things cleaned regularly for hygiene purposes. However, now more than ever it’s important to implement a more thorough daily cleaning and disinfecting routine. If you have cleaning staff, try to get them a disinfection certification in order to be sure that everything is thoroughly and correctly done according to regulations. Otherwise, you might consider hiring a cleaning company to disinfect your work once or twice a day to ensure the safety of your staff and customers.
Another important factor is of course providing sanitizing stations throughout the workplace for both staff and customers to make use of. You might want to station someone at the entrance of the building to enforce sanitization, mask-wearing, and temperature checking before anyone comes in, just to provide extra peace of mind to those who have to be there.
Have Backup Plans
As a business owner in 2021, it’s important to be aware of potential crises in the form of restrictions, hard lockdowns, outbreaks, and infections in your workplace. Having a clear strategy and plan for various occurrences is going to be vital in not only keeping your staff safe but in keeping your business up and running in the months and even years to come.
It’s important to have a clear understanding of what will need to be done if one of your staff members tests positive – ask yourself questions like will the business need to shut down for a few days? How will you function without that employee for the isolation period and potentially beyond? In what ways might the business suffer a temporary closure and how can that be combatted or managed? All these questions (and some more specific to your business) will help you ensure smooth sailing if and when something does go wrong.
Mental health plays a much bigger role in this pandemic than many employers may realize. While the safety of your business and the health of you and your staff and clients might be front of mind in a time period such as this, it’s important to remember how many people have struggled mentally and still face many stresses, anxieties, and real mental health issues surrounding the pandemic and beyond.
Opening a line of communication between yourself and your employees regarding how they’re feeling about being back at work and what might make them feel more comfortable could only be beneficial for your business in the long run. Employees that feel safe and free to communicate when there’s a problem are more likely to cooperate and give their all at work. Being lenient where possible and expressing concern and support for any mental and emotional issues they may be struggling with will boost staff morale and provide an overall more positive atmosphere during an otherwise difficult and troubling time.