Ensuring the well-being and safety of employees has become a greater challenge in the wake of COVID-19. In addition to the usual level of support that each staff member requires and deserves, more consideration and care will need to be offered by businesses, not only to minimise the risk of contracting the virus itself but also to support employee mental wellbeing and your own operation.
To ensure that you are taking the appropriate measures to support your staff, we have put together a guide that covers the basic action each employer should take when managing their staff.
The most pressing issue within a business as staff return to the workplace is ensuring that there is minimal chance of contracting or spreading the COVID-19 virus. To keep your staff safe, World Health Organisation (WHO) and governmental guidelines should be understood and followed. This includes designing spaces for appropriate social distancing, which could potentially mean redesigning your workplace to prevent staff from working directly across from each other or spreading workstations further apart.
Additionally, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and sanitising stations should be offered and installed where appropriate. Such sanitising stations should be installed in prominent and high traffic areas, like breakrooms and waiting rooms, being checked and filled regularly. Staff should be informed and encouraged of their own helpful and necessary actions too. For example, desks, keyboards, and surfaces should be cleaned after use. By doing so, health risks are reduced and staff can work safely.
Within the workplace, there are many potential stressors for staff and, at a time of financial uncertainty, it is important to take extra precaution in certain departments, specifically payroll.
In addition to those affected by upcoming IR35 tax law changes, internal payroll departments are susceptible to making mistakes when it comes to staff paychecks and salary, and issues with invoices are not uncommon. The effects of such errors on staff can be significant, especially at this time, and it is imperative that payroll departments are diligent in their compliance and support. Alternatively, external payroll services can be considered, eliminating any worry regarding employee wages and PAYE protocol.
WHO have advised that certain standards of sensitivity are met when dealing with COVID-19 in the workplace, so as to ensure a better quality of mental health among workers. Basic precautions, such as referring to workers as people with COVID and not case or victims helps to deter anxiety and stigma. By doing so, the workplace alleviates the potential mental stress placed on employees.
As there are now greater stress risks outside of the workplace, it is important to consider and monitor stress within the workplace. Rotating staff among various tasks and workloads can help to reduce stress, as well as coupling team members together who may be able to support each other as individuals.
Downtime and relaxation are paramount for staff wellbeing, meaning breaks should be encouraged and enforced. This can be difficult when staff members are working from home and studies have shown that many employees are working for longer hours when working remotely. For the continued quality of performance, as well as staff wellbeing, take measures to ensure staff take time away from their work.