We are all living through unprecedented times at present but with some of the rules around lockdown easing the government is churning out it’s guidance on getting us back to work at an extremely fast rate. We spoke to Ally Maughan, founder of People Puzzles to get some advice on some of the practical steps that family business owners can take when planning to re-open.
As Ally explains, “At People Puzzles we are generally of the opinion that getting practical is most important and here we have outlined 9 key steps businesses can take to reopen. Having spoken to a lot of clients and read a lot of guidance, we have been very impressed with the CIPD’s 3 key tests before bringing people back to the workplace to start with.”
1) Is it essential?
If people can then they should continue to work from home for the foreseeable future.
2) Is it safe?
Employers have always had a duty of care to identify and manage workplace risks.
3) Is it mutually agreed?
CIPD research found that 40% of people are anxious about returning to work and mutual agreement is going to be preferable.
So practically what can employers do?
1) Get your Health and Safety in order.
That means a written Coronavirus risk assessment, additional handwashing facilities, sanitiser stations, deep cleaning and better overall hygiene.
2) Get your workplace design right.
Get out your yellow tape, move desks, create one way systems – social distancing where possible is extremely important.
3) Get PPE on order.
Then start explaining to people how and when to use it, make it available, turn it into policy, and consider a carrot and stick approach – the reward for keeping it and the implications of breaking it.
4) Workforce planning.
Who is on and who is off site? How are you managing each group? How do shift patterns work? You will need to consult with your team to agree shift pattern changes as it is a shift to their employment contracts. This isn’t always as easy as it sounds!
5) Organisation design.
Are you going to stay the same shape and size as you move through the covid phases?
6) Communicate clearly with the team about coming back in.
What day do you expect them? What time? Wearing what? Is it a mass email or individual conversations? Who has no childcare or is still vulnerable? Who may be isolating who is furloughed? This is a huge communication challenge and will take time to organise and enact. Who is taking the lead?
7) Re-induct your workforce.
Remember that feeling after a long holiday, or after maternity leave? It is hard coming back into work! Those people who have been on furlough will find it quite a shock to the system to come back into work with it functioning so differently. They will be coming back to new ways of working, perhaps a new layout, maybe no canteen. They may be expected to wear itchy and uncomfortable PPE for 8 hours a day. But equally it is an opportunity to get the company and the country moving again. It is a great opportunity to put your culture and values to work to make this the next step of the journey, not a nightmare.
8) And what if they refuse?
Like any employee concern, the best approach is consultation, listening, making allowances and/or changes and trying to get mutual agreement. Seek advice if necessary.
9) Finally, make sure you are legal.
There were some employment law changes in April, including an increased National Minimum Wage. Make sure you are up to date and compliant and again seek advice where necesary.
We know that this is a huge list of things to do over the coming days and weeks: it will be time consuming but hugely important. If you need an extra pair of hands over the next few weeks, you want advice on consultation, persuasion and communicating inline with your culture and values, please do give us a call as we would love to help.
People Puzzles are FBU partners and you can find out more by getting in touch with them. If you have more than 20 staff email on firstname.lastname@example.org or give them a call on 0808 164 5826 if you would like to arrange a suitable time for a complimentary 30 minute call with one of their HR Directors. Find out more at www.peoplepuzzles.co.uk