Shawnee Love • September 29, 2020
Employees working from home or on layoff may still be concerned about returning to the workplace even if you have implemented all the recommended COVID precautions.
So what can you do to help ease them through this transition back? We have been compiling strategies and have put together this comprehensive list to help:
- Build a return to work orientation. This is just like a new hire orientation except it will cover all the changes since they left. Include new scheduling and seating arrangements, locations of PPE and cleaning supplies, processes and policies on who can be where and when, occupancy requirements, personal and work travel policies, what to do if you are sick, and what will happen if someone is sick with Covid.
- Offer virtual tours of the worksite with cameos of colleagues already working onsite who explain in their own words how it feels to be at work. It doesn’t hurt to have a few heartfelt encouragements to come back because the people working at home are sorely missed.
- Support mental and physical health with access to employee assistance plans, mental health coaching, financial advice, a workplace pet, social distanced socials, etc.
- Remind people what is still the same and what they have control over. Much of the research on anxiety is that it is increased by change and the stuff we don’t have control over. So it helps to give choice or options when you can.
- Give a welcome back “care package”. In it you can include things like a personalized mug or water bottle; a reusable mask (pro tip: lots of companies are branding their masks for a wee marketing boost but you can also make them fun and comfortable for bonus points); a mini clean kit with things like handiwipes, eco /people friendly sanitizer, and spray cleaner; a health check card with reminders on how to stay healthy and what to do if sick; an itunes or google play gift card to be used for a health promotion app supporting fitness, healthy eating, mindfulness, meditation, etc. “Commemorative” and company swag can be fun too. After all, it’s a big milestone to come back to work and why shouldn’t those coming back get something to mark the occasion?
- Arrange with rideshare or transportation companies to offer employees a safe way to and from work (having to take public transit is a major reason people report being scared to come back).
- Replace communal food with brown bag and/or other types of individualized meals. It’s a lovely treat to have someone else prepare a meal for you and organizationally you have an opportunity to buy local.
- Host fun events for those who come back. It’s hard to say what will fit in your organization, but if the people in the workplace will be excited and want to attend, you aren’t far off the mark.
I have also heard of companies offering bonuses and other temporary incentives to get people back to their workplaces but it is my experience those also cause dismay when they stop, so I prefer some of the other tips mentioned.
What ever you choose, just remember once they are in, you keep them there with consideration, care, flexibility, and safety.
If you need help with your return to the worksite arrangements, we’d be pleased to help.