strong “shelter-in-place” rules, the curve is flattening and positive data
trends are beginning to emerge in certain cities and counties across the
country. New guidance is being issued by federal, state and local governments. Interim guidelines from the CDC that
have been in place for weeks will continue to apply to some locations, even as new
recommendations are adopted in other places. For most organizations, especially
those beginning to plan for a return to work, introducing new rules while maintaining
others is confusing. To help dispel some of the uncertainty before welcoming
employees back to the workplace, we’ve compiled a few best practices to keep
employees safe that apply in any situation.
1. Enable Remote Work When and Where You Can
Even as things loosen up in certain
locations, it is recommended that those employees who can work remotely
continue to do so. Bringing office workers onsite creates more potential for
viral transmission and may put your staff and everyone they come in contact
with at risk. For these reasons, the members of your team who can work from
home should do so.
Be sure to
provide your team with the tools they need to remain productive. That
can include computers with the right applications and security safeguards, collaboration
tools, headphones, etc.
the current circumstances, communication is more critical than ever before to
ensure employees stay connected with you and with each other. Be very clear in
terms of expectations and provide frequent feedback on performance. Take
advantage of audio and video technology to connect with team members on a
regular basis. Establish a set schedule for connecting, whether that is daily
or weekly, one-on-one or in a group.
If remote work is new to your organization, consider
this an opportunity to test it out. According to Spherion’s Emerging Workforce®
Study, most employees view remote work positively in terms of candidate
recruiting, employee morale and engagement, productivity and retention.
2. Revisit Sick Leave Policies
you haven’t already done so, now is the time to review your sick leave
policies. Experience has taught us a painful lesson: people who don’t get paid
when they are ill tend to continue working, no matter how they feel. The CDC
stresses the importance of "everyday preventative actions" in helping to mitigate COVID-19. One
of the most important is to stay home if you are sick, yet 24% of the U.S. workforce — 33.6 million people — cannot count on
getting paid during illness. That has likely contributed to the spread of the virus.
According to the CDC, those early cases linked to Seattle-area nursing homes
and assisted living facilities, for example, were traced to healthcare workers who showed up for work despite reportedly feeling
sick. Other studies relating to influenza have proven the
benefits of healthier workplaces. In municipalities that mandate paid sick
leave for workers, public health experts have reported infection rates as much
as 40 percent lower compared to those that do not.
you have not previously offered paid sick leave, be sure to review the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. You
may need to start, as one of the provisions of the bill extends paid leave to
workers who did not have it. Post-pandemic, it may be difficult to compete for
talent if your benefits fall short of what employees expect.
3. Clean & Disinfect the Workplace Frequently
and disinfecting may have once been routine, but now it has become an artform
for some and an obsession for others. We’ve all seen notices posted about how
materials are being handled and how frequently businesses are sanitizing their
premises. All employers should establish strict protocols for attacking the
virus on surfaces in the workplace. Keep the workforce healthy with three
simple guidelines for a strong focus on hygiene:
Schedule more frequent cleanings.
Only use disinfectants that are effective against the virus, per EPA guidance. (Note that some cleaning products may remove but not necessarily deactivate the virus.)
Pay particular attention to "high-touch" spots like counters and handrails.
More stringent cleaning efforts may require
you to do more than simply make some changes to routine maintenance practices.
For example, you may need to bring on more staff to handle the higher workload
or alter hours of operation to ensure sufficient time for cleanings to be
4. Introduce Personal Protective Measures for Everyone
Personal protective equipment (PPE) has long
been a basic safety prerequisite for workers in industrial and healthcare
settings, but now it can protect everyone. Continue to follow traditional
standards for employees who always use PPE, based on their role or job task.
Due to the pandemic, however, you should also expand the umbrella of protection
with new safety practices and special resources to keep all employees safe. For
- Start the day with wellness checks.
- Make hand sanitizer available at multiple locations across the workplace.
- Check that air-treatment systems are operating correctly.
- Provide masks or bandanas for every worker.
Whether you operate a production facility, a
retail store or a healthcare office, more proactive hygiene policies make sense
for everyone. In the case of customer-facing employees, consider instituting an
hourly handwashing mandate. Finally, you may need to reconfigure site layout
and workflows to accommodate greater physical distances between workers without
you think your work site may have been exposed to coronavirus, contact the
health department immediately. Otherwise, continue to follow the guidance of
local public health authorities and the CDC to keep people safe. Click here to learn what Spherion is doing to protect
employees and clients during this crisis. If we can support you in any way
during this difficult time, please connect
with your local Spherion office. Stay safe!