Employees and employers are all anxious during this time. So, returning to work is going to take empathy, analysis and planning. Business changes will need to be made and some of the changes will be long-term. Careful planning for reopening will be needed and communicating with your employees will be critical.
No two businesses will be the same in their planning. Consideration of all aspects of the startup will need to be analyzed before putting together your plan and process.
1. Communication will be necessary after your analysis.
- Hours of operation
- New set up of facility
- What they can expect when arriving
- Staff notice
- Who will return
- Changes in job duties
- Hours of work
2. Workplace Safety
- Isolation & containment
- Stay-at-home requirements
- Exposure communication plan
- Masks, gloves, face shields, etc.
- Personal hand sanitizer
- Staggered shifts and lunch breaks
- Rotating weeks in office and working remotely
- Moving workstations to increase separation distance (6 feet distancing)
- Implementing one-way traffic patterns in workplace
- Essential travel only (define)
- Follow government and CDC rules
- Directing customer traffic through workplace
- Limiting the number of customers in any area at one time
- No handshake greetings, remain 6 feet apart
- Using video or telephone conferencing instead of in-person client meetings
- Providing contactless pickup and delivery of products
- Identify situations that might have virus exposures
- Review OSHA regulations for work-related illnesses
- Record necessary disease or virus occurrences that may occur in the workplace
3. Bringing employees back to workplace
- Employee status during the virus (lay-off, furloughed, etc.)
- Use a seniority system or any other nonincriminating process for return.
- Consider labor costs (work share, lower wages, reduced hours, etc.)
- Determine schedule and needs with total communication with staff before rolling it out
- Employees who are fearful of returning to work
- Employees who have family obligations that interfere with the ability to return to work
- Employees who remain under quarantine due to exposure to the virus
4. Employee benefits: This will vary with the type of employment relationship and any changes that might have been made with the pandemic. What will the business requirements be for the future.
- Eligibility guidelines
- Continued payments or COBRA
- Coverage and/or changes
- Review guidelines
- Any changes
- Review guidelines for layoff or furloughs
- Break in service issues
- Review Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
- Track timeline if using this benefit
- Determine if PTO policy or benefit changes need to be made
- Review the coordination of leave benefits
- Communicate benefits with all staff
5. Compensation. These will be determined by the overall analysis you make on your business.
- Pay cuts made during or after the pandemic
- Review for pay equity
6. Remote Work. Telecommuting may have been a short-term solution during the virus but may be an avenue that also be a benefit for your business going forward.
7. Communications. This is key in building an employee team where by everyone works together. Clear changes need to be communicated and designed to fit your business.
8. New-hire paperwork. Employees who are remaining on the payroll will not need to take this step, but if the employee has been separated then a new hire process may be necessary.
9. Policy changes. The virus will change your business and changes will likely be needed to update policies going forward.
10. Business continuity plans. As an employer it will be important to create a continuity plan to go forward. Now is the time to review and revise the plan to prepare for future emergencies.
- Checklist adapted from SHRM