10 Tips for Organizations Preparing to Return to Work
This week, we hosted a webinar on sharpening the employee relations landscape – preparing for the return to work. Anita Tinney, a Human Capital Consultant at Exude discussed the possible employee conflict and legal implications employers might experience if they are not prepared with the appropriate strategy, policies, and procedures to return to work. Below are the ten tips she shared to help get organizations thinking about the steps they need to take in order to prepare themselves and their employees to get back to work.
- The “New Normal” – As work life and interactions have all been forced to change, you must get rid of the idea of the old normal. As a leader, it’s important to visibly acknowledge that things have to be different to gain credibility from employees. Encourage new ideas and continue focusing on DEI efforts- if you weren’t focusing on inclusion before, you can’t afford to leave employees behind now.
- Policy and Handbook Review – Revisit your organization’s policies through the lens of this pandemic. Some policies in place will no longer make sense, so make adjustments and changes around the transition to the current normal. As humans we have a limited “window of tolerance” around changes, so set changes within the next few months to get maximum employee engagement.
- Anticipate Increased Conflict – In short, we can’t control other people. As people will be at various levels of comfort and productivity in this state, there will be an increase in workplace conflict. Be sure leaders can identify it early and address it.
- Addressing Conflict: Investigations – When it comes to workplace conflict, don’t investigate everything. While some must be investigated for legal reasons, generally only 5% of conflicts require investigating. Don’t spend time and resources on unnecessary ones.
- Addressing Conflict: Seeping – Be prepared for an increase in claims- worker’s comp, safety claims, etc.- these are employee relations issues being presented in a different way.
- Staff Up Your Accommodation Resources – Be prepared for employee requests such as working from home, changing schedules, etc., especially from those with underlying medical conditions. Train HR managers to recognize these reasonable accommodation requests and give them the tools to properly handle them.
- Sharpen Your Workforce Reorganization Skills – Given the financial uncertainty of this pandemic, there will likely be a significant amount of reorganizations in the next few years. Train HR managers of those reorgs to handle the change and the risks associated
- Revisit Your Absence Management Processes – While employees are returning to the office, people will still have to miss days of work. It’s critical to track these absences smartly and build this into your reorganization strategies. Be consistent with attendance policies but be open to relaxing strict policies for the immediate future.
- Revisit Employee Engagement Strategies – During difficult times, it’s key to increase communication with your workforce. Employees need consistent knowledge, but this doesn’t have to be done through physical meetings- be creative and listen to ideas. Your definition of employee engagement may change, so teach leaders to be empathetic but still manage with expectations.
- Crash Course in Labor Relations – Labor unions are being perceived as protectors of employee’s rights.; the general public has an overall favorable view of unions. Labor explosions happen during unprecedented times in history. It’s critical to decide on your organization’s strategy and educate employees.