Beyond Lockdown: Bringing employees back to work

Wednesday May 6, 2020

The government has released its road map for reopening society and businesses. And while remote working continues to be encouraged for the time being, we do feel it is vital to start thinking about your ‘beyond lockdown’ people management now. This is because you may find that getting employees back to work as soon as possible, is not as straightforward as you might imagine. Some planning and preparation will be required.

There are important decisions that you will need to make. The sooner you can make these, the quicker you will be able to proceed when the time comes.

Before employees come back to work

What should be on your radar before bringing employees back to work? For starters, we would advise that you consider the following:

  • If your business is permitted a phased return, how will you manage this? Who will you bring back and when?
  • Have core business operations permanently changed because of coronavirus? Do job roles need to be updated?
  • Will there be enough work for everyone? If you need to consider a workforce restructure or redundancies, there are important processes and timelines to think about.
  • Is your place of business safe? You should not be bringing employees back to work until you can confidently say yes with the help of a COVID-19 risk assessment.
  • If prolonged social distancing rules impact your workplace, can employees work remotely or on a staggered shift pattern?

Only after you have addressed these questions should you be thinking about bringing employees back to work.

How to bring employees back to work

You may be eager to reopen doors and get back to business, but after time in isolation, employees may be apprehensive about returning to work, especially surrounding health and safety.

The best thing you can do is communicate with employees in advance to let them know the results of your risk assessment and what you are doing to prepare the business for their return. This should help to ease any day one concerns and allow a much-needed focus on the return to work. Some businesses will need to adapt to a new normal and implement social distancing in the workplace through temporary rules for the day-to-day. These should be put in writing and communicated to employees before they return.

Additionally, you should aim to give employees notice, in writing, regarding their return to work. This can help them to mentally prepare for their change in circumstance and allow them to bring any concerns to your attention.

For example, if schools have not fully reopened, the working parents of your workforce may need to request flexible working to balance childcare commitments. You will want to be aware of this in advance so that you can manage effectively.

Aftercare is another important part of the agenda for bringing employees back to work. Through 121’s you can monitor how employees are coping post lockdown and provide support where necessary.

Your business beyond the COVID-19 restrictions

Your business may look very different to how it did before the coronavirus pandemic, and it is likely that you will need new strategies and processes in place for your team to adjust. It is vital to start thinking about this now so that you can get back to business.

If you need support with your HR due to the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, give us a call. We will help you to formulate an effective and efficient plan to get your employees back to work.

Preventing People Problems

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