Even if you are fortunate enough to have your health and a job at present, living through a pandemic is hard. Every day, we can only swap the frustration of being cooped indoors with the stress of stepping out. Even a chore as simple as buying groceries is now nothing less than a drill fraught with risks.
Faced with so much uncertainty, it is natural to feel anxiety, sadness or even anger. Like you, your employees may be worried about finances or the wellbeing of their family. If they live alone, they may be struggling with social isolation and/or insomnia as well.
As provinces cautiously begin to ease lockdown restrictions, businesses are preparing to reopen. Whether you are preparing to recall employees or manage a remote workforce, there is a lot you can do to reassure your staff on health and safety. Here are some steps you can take to address the anxiety issues of your employees:
Inform your employees of the health and safety controls you’ve put in place. Provide training on the new policies, such as social distancing, hand hygiene protocols, etc. Doing so will help your staff feel more confident and in control.
Provide self-monitoring tools
Prepare a self-assessment questionnaire that your employees can fill out before each shift. It should have questions on key symptoms to watch out for, such as cough, fatigue, difficulty breathing.
You could also ask your employees to use online assessment tools provided by the Canadian government. Make sure your employees know the protocol in case they experience COVID-19 symptoms.
Opt for remote work where possible
Review your workplace capacity before recalling staff. Consider safer options such as recalling staff on a rotational basis or in a phased manner. You could also ask employees whose physical attendance is not essential to work from home. Stagger start and end times to prevent your staff from using public transit during rush hours.
Some workers may have health conditions that put them at higher risk for COVID-19. If possible, accommodate those employees by letting them work from home or remain off work.
Educate your remote workers on health and safety practices to be followed while working from home. You may need to provide them with ergonomic equipment so that they can work comfortably from home.
Follow a rigorous cleaning & disinfection policy
Make sure your lunch areas and wash rooms are well stocked with soap, paper towels and hand sanitizers. Provide hand sanitizers at work stations and at the office entrance. High touch points in common areas such as cafeteria, elevators, stairways, etc., should be frequently cleaned and disinfected. Shared equipment such as printers, copiers, etc. should be regularly sanitized as well.
Encourage self care and provide emotional support
Check in on a regular basis with your employees, especially remote workers who live alone. They may be feeling lonely and isolated besides being stressed. Organize team bonding exercises to boost your staff’s morale. Invite health experts to speak to your staff on self care and how to manage anxiety during this time.
Keep an eye out for signs of strain such as sudden changes in personality or productivity. Encourage workers struggling with stress and anxiety to get the help they need.
There are plenty of resources available for COVID-19 mental health care. Inform your staff about these materials. Encourage them to avail of the Employee Assistance Program, if needed.
Want to know your employer obligations surrounding COVID-19 health and safety?
For advice on health and safety policies during the pandemic, call an expert today: 1 (833) 247-3652.