Safeguarding your employees post-Covid
As we emerge from lockdown, few of us are keen to look backwards. But sometimes, shocks and setbacks make us stronger.
Covid-19 has shone a spotlight on the responsibilities employers have to safeguard their staff. Not just those on the frontline, but back-office workers too.
At Connect Assist, we aim to help your organisation learn from the lessons of the pandemic and enter the ‘new normal’ with a happier, healthier workforce.
The Covid-19 effect
The Covid-19 pandemic has taken its toll on workers – especially their mental health and emotional wellbeing.
For people in insecure jobs, or with health conditions, it’s been a particularly scary time. For those who’ve lost loved ones, the grief is immense and if you’re in a frontline position supporting vulnerable people, it can be hard not to take on their fears as your own.
Working from home has some upsides, but the downsides can be huge. Juggling a job with children is no easy task, and it’s hard to replicate the supportive buzz of an office at your own kitchen table.
But none of these situations are unique to the pandemic, though of course they’ve been exacerbated by it.
What might have changed is bosses’ awareness of what employees often try to hide, and their acceptance that they have a duty of care towards their workforce.
Safeguarding staff post-pandemic
Although lockdown is easing in the UK, we’re not out of the woods yet.
In a guide to shaping and safeguarding the workforce in banks, management consultancy McKinsey warns:
‘The tremendous uncertainty that remains about the months and years ahead will continue to strain both the physical and psychological well-being’ of employees.
Its four recommendations could apply to all sectors…One: Commit to principles on employee wellbeing. These could include putting health and safety first, and extending support to contractors and to workers’ families. Bosses should also be transparent about decision-making to reduce uncertainty.
Two: Introduce ways of working that will endure beyond the crisis. Agility, upskilling and remote working must all be factored in.
Three: Re-imagine performance management and incentives, including reducing stress by simplifying targets, and finding ways to boost morale.
Four: Maintain cultural hallmarks threatened by the pandemic. This might include strengthening the role of community and family in the workplace, for instance through virtual take-your-kids-to-work days.
What might these recommendations look like in practice for your organisation?
Returning to workplaces
Bringing remote workers back to the workplace, if you haven’t already, is a sensitive moment.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has produced a guide to Covid-19 and returning to the workplace. It says:
‘This is an ideal time for employers to think more creatively about effective ways of working […] A flexible approach could help employers develop more effective people management practices, resulting in improved productivity.’
The guide covers health and safety concerns, including carrying out risk assessments; introducing hygiene and sanitation measures; conducting frequent Covid testing; and considering transport, travel and quarantine plans.
It also focuses on safeguarding emotional wellbeing, reminding bosses that staff experiences of lockdown may differ wildly. Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs), a safeguarding policy for your workplace, and helplines could prove invaluable.
And the CIPD urges employers to make sure that plans to bring employees back to workplaces don’t discriminate against certain groups, like women with childcare responsibilities.
Connect Assist: your partner in safeguarding
The CIPD guide concludes:
‘Communication with your staff is key […] Knowing they are valued and supported by their employer – and that you continue to prioritise their health and safety – will be pivotal to their wellbeing.’
At Connect Assist, we’ve long recognised the need to safeguard staff. You can read about the measures we’ve put in place for our own workforce, including phone debriefings with frontline staff, video chats and light-hearted online social events or our lone worker services here on this site.
We can consult on holistic safeguarding practices for your organisation too, helping you protect your employees’ physical and psychological wellbeing for the long term.
So, drop us a line for a chat. We’d love to hear from you.