Various provinces in Canada are beginning to lift their pandemic restrictions

Our goal is to introduce employees back into the work place

Gradually

Sofly

Welcoming

Suggestions

For Returning To Work

Step One: Assess the risk of your workplace

Take a step back and consider a few factors: Is there enough spacing between workstations? Are there hand washing stations available? How much contact do employees have with the public? What surfaces or objects are touched often?

Step Two: Commitment to Health and Safety

Continue to practice physical distancing and slowly integrate employees into the workplace. As an employer, you have a responsibility to each employee’s health and safety, so you must consider the different ways to modify the workspace or promote more health and safety initiatives.

Some employees may have a more resistant approach to coming back to work which stems from uncertainty and the challenges that may have been faced during isolation. Talk to these employees and provide some reassurance by offering workplace accommodations which can include working from home, flexible hours, PPE, barriers, etc.

The Ontario government has recently released sector-specific guidelines for COVID-19 protection. Companies can also choose to have their staff voluntarily take a screening questionnaire routinely to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms.

Step Three: Communication

Communication is KEY to effective and smooth transitions in the workplace. It is important to keep consistent communication with employees about what is happening, how it affects them, and the next steps that they should be preparing for. You should outline exact dates of events that are to take places and the expectations you have.

I.e. On Monday, June 15, 2020 the company invites the sales representatives to return to the office. Each employee will have their own desk or workspace and Lysol wipes, masks, and gloves will be made available.

Also try to encourage communication between employees to incorporate their ideas and insights on return to work plans.

Step Four: Monitor and Reassess

Review your policies and procedures – specifically your sick leave, return to work, workplace accommodation, and travel policies. Policies are one of those resources that need to be reviewed and adjusted frequently because they need to be in compliance with current trends and legislation.

Step Five: Prioritize Mental Health

The pandemic has affected everyone in some way, and we do not know what challenges some people have had to overcome. Be compassionate and consider the mental wellbeing of your workers. The “Did You Know?” section provides some more detail on this topic.

Workplace Culture

A company that embodies and supports a positive workplace culture are more likely to accomplish their company objectives. Culture guides employee behaviour, increases job satisfaction, and creates a team dynamic. Studies show that companies who stick by their core values are more resilient during times of adversity. A simple test of workplace culture can be to ask your employees if they know the company’s core values, mission and vision statements.

Did You Know

This year’s theme is “social connection”

Fitting considering the global pandemic we have been living through the past few months. We need to strive to stay connected and reach out to others around us.

By providing emotional support, companionship and opportunities for meaningful social engagement, social networks have an influence on self-esteem, coping effectiveness, depression, and sense of well-being. Social networks and social ties have a beneficial effect on mental health outcomes, including stress reactions, psychological well-being and symptoms of psychological distress including depression and anxiety. Studies show that having social connections and being civically engaged are associated with positive mental and physical health and wellbeing.

Check out the webinar that my colleague, Taylor, and I conducted on Tuesday, May 5th about Mental Health Week, handling stress, and the resources available to Canadians.

For more information visit: www.mentalhealthweek.ca

About the writer: Christina Galeota, B.B.A (Hons.), pursuing CHRP

I am a Brock University graduate with a background in Business. I have always been an analytical individual and research is my specialty. My consistent learning attitude keeps me up-to-date with ongoing changes in the business and HR world, so sharing my knowledge not only benefits me, but you as well.

If you have not implemented HR processes in your company, please reach out to me at [email protected] and I will gladly give you some information on where to get started and how I can be a key player in the success of your business and people.