Businesses are eager to re-open. We’ve all been waiting patiently to get back to business-as-usual. And while we prepare to return to work, people in leadership positions need to take action to ensure workers and the workplace is protected to prevent exposure while the pandemic is still active.
The current state of the world is unprecedented, that's not lost on anybody. First, we need to all reduce the stress by acknowledging that nobody alive today has ever had to solve a problem like COVID-19. Sure we had the Spanish flu back in the early 20th century, however that wasn't amplified by the economies of scale that we have today. So, before you get overwhelmed by what needs to be done, take solace in the fact that we are all going through this with the same level of experience.
Never before has health and safety been such a priority for organization in every single industry. We usually cater to high risk market vertices like construction, utilities, and oil and gas industries, but we are seeing an increase in vertices that we never thought we'd be talking to, like banking, retail stores, and otherwise low risk organizations. This is a problem for everyone and we have obligations to satisfy both morally or socially and regulatory.
12 Key Actions
Organizations must take significant steps to prepare workers for re-entry into the workforce, as well as prepare and adapt the workplace itself in readiness, as infections are still widespread through much of the world. Once workers return to work, there are critical actions that need to be undertaken to reduce potential exposure and limit the risk of a new outbreak.
- Reconfiguring workplaces
- Pre-checks and readiness audits
- Pre-screening Employees
- PPE Management
- Change management
- On going health screenings
- Workforce Training
- Enhanced building access
- Remote Management
- Social Distancing
- Psychological Safety
In my last webinar I went into the details of each of these actions. You can watch the recording here.
Of all these 12 critical actions, I consider the last one of psychological safety to be one of the most important actions to take - You're going to spend all of this time setting up for re-opening, and getting the health screening in place, and all of the distancing measures and training requirements only to have your workers either not follow the rules because it would slow them down from completing the job, or lie on their self assessments because they can’t go two weeks without a pay check.
This happens in safety too, workers feel the need to skip the hazard assessments because they believe it's non-productive as there is no valuable output in their mind.
You need to address this upfront with your workers. Having a message from the top levels of your organization about how important it is to properly implement these new procedures, and that skipping them has a higher consequence than performing them, even if it slows them down.
Showcase that you are willing to sacrifice productivity for safety so that they feel confident when they see a crowded space to say something, or not enter until it's safe. Make sure you have communicated your sick leave policy, in Canada the Government is assisting employers with 10 days paid sick leave, this is for the sole purpose of having people tell the truth on the self assessment.
Remove the risk to your employees and workers. Let them understand that you know what they value and that we are in extremely bizarre times right now, and that the things they felt they were penalized for before, are not how we will deal with things moving ahead.