The impact and sudden change for your employees at the beginning of the pandemic was quick and decisive. If your business stayed open, you adjusted on the fly and dealt with the changes as they occurred.
If you had to close your business as you were deemed nonessential, your employees had no choice but to go home and wait.
If you were able to transition your employees to working from home, your business may have pivoted quickly, but your employees had to get comfortable with working from home and establishing a work life balance.
In each scenario, businesses, employees, and families were powerless to change their reality.
Now that the economy is preparing to reopen, business owners have told us that they underestimated the concern and range of emotions their employees are feeling returning to work. They have suggested that it was almost easier to close that it has been to reopen.
Here are a few tips to consider when bringing back your workforce.
Plan for a variety of emotions.
Your employees may have experienced emotions like grief, powerlessness, anxiety, and pure fear as their work situation changed. What is surprising is that as they re-enter the workplace, they are feeling the same level of emotion.
Some of your team may feel additional anxiety about their health inside the office, even though you feel that you have implemented every precaution recommended. There may be a concern for them going home to their families after being out there in the world.
- To ease the transition reassure them that it will be normal to have emotional up and downs.
- Ask if they have specific concerns that you may be able to resolve together.
- Be empathetic, these are uncharted waters for everybody.
Plan and communicate how you will reopen.
Communicate your re-opening process clearly to your employees. Will you stagger shifts or reconfigure the office to adhere to social distancing requirements? Will employees be required to wear masks or implement a sanitization protocol?
As their leader you will need to inform them that you are following all government and health department guidelines and that their health is a priority for the company. Additionally, it will be up to you to enforce their adherence to the new way of doing business.
- Clearly communicate changes to how the business will deliver products or services.
- Allow employees the opportunity to discuss how the changes may impact their ability to preform their job.
- Your re-open plans will change as we navigate the pandemic, communicate these changes as soon as you can.
Bottomline we collectively are doing our best as the economy re-opens. If you implemented something and it is not working, change it. Be mindful that it may challenge your employees and re-engage some of the emotions they were feeling.