Returning to work after COVID19
What to consider as you bring employees back to the workplace
As lockdowns flare up and ease, gradually more people are returning to work. For many, this is a significant and potentially anxiety-inducing step. As a business leader, it’s important that everyone on your team feels comfortable about the return to work.
As well as making the workplace physically safe, supporting the mental wellbeing of staff as they return is equally important. Here are some of our tips to help you determine the right way to open your working space.
Back to work guidance
Any back-to-work plan needs to acknowledge the profound changes to ways of working as a result of COVID-19. This is likely to have a longer term impact on how we all work, with research showing that three-quarters of employees want to continue working remotely more frequently. Any plan will need to be based on the latest government guidelines, and you’ll need to be relatively flexible. As we’ve learned, circumstances may result in government guidelines changing unexpectedly.
All plans should include a robust hygiene management protocol that identifies risks and touchpoints in your working environment. You’ll likely need to have a phased return by introducing a small percentage of the team to test any new procedures. Once you’ve assessed whether these work, you can start a more formal reopening.
Empowering and managing your team
One thing that shouldn’t be overlooked is clear communication with your team. They should be kept in the loop so there are no surprises and everyone feels comfortable about what’s happening. Anonymous employee surveys are a good way to collect honest feedback, which will be crucial for a smooth transition back to work.
As changes to furlough come into effect and you start bringing staff back, it’s important these changes are recorded in your accounts. Xero is continuously updating Xero Payroll with new features to support changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. They're working on a solution that enables employers to record flexi furlough, and will be in touch with updates as they occur. In the meantime, check in with Flor-Hanly's Xero Certified Advisers with any Xero or payroll questions you may have.
Supporting mental wellbeing
Supporting your team’s mental wellbeing is key for a successful return-to-work plan:
- Provide certainty: Provide certainty around your company’s return-to-work plans and the role each member of staff will play. This will help reduce anxiety for them in one area of their life and allow them to make plans for the future.
- Manage losses of freedom: Returning to the workplace ultimately means less time to spend with loved ones and on hobbies, which is something most of us have become accustomed to during lockdown. Consider whether you can offer to retain some of that freedom in your new working structure.
- Capitalise on the humanity we’ve gained: Work relationships will have changed during lockdown both for better or worse. Catching glimpses of each other’s personal lives help to forge open and authentic connections. Capitalise on that by identifying new working relationship dynamics.
- Signpost your support systems: Normalise the fact that current circumstances will impact mental health and signpost the available support to your entire workforce so that everyone knows who they can turn to.
Flor-Hanly Commercial and Agribusiness Accountants in Mackay QLD are Xero Platinum Certified Partners. Call us on 07 4963 4800 for any help with setting up or optimising how you use Xero on your farm or in your business.