By DOUG WALKER | Insperity
As the threat of the COVID-19 virus continues to spread throughout the country, many company leaders are faced with the responsibility of keeping their employees healthy and safe, as well as making decisions that could affect the future of the business. As the impact of the virus continues to expand, it is likely that organizations will have little to no time to prepare for travel restrictions, city ordinances and continued outbreak, and it may be helpful to use this time to create and communicate a plan. Despite the many unknowns, it is important for business leaders to remain calm, and step back to determine how best to navigate the uncertainty.
While there are still many unknowns surrounding the virus and its lasting impact, below are several steps business leaders can consider to help mitigate setbacks in the workplace.
Adjust company policies
While company health policies and structured employee benefits can serve well for an organization throughout the year, business leaders may want to consider adjusting these for the short-term. For example, management may want to encourage individuals to work from home if they begin to show even slight symptoms of illness. Allowing team members to work remotely in such cases can help avoid the spread of germs throughout the workplace.
It is important to remember that despite the uncertainty surrounding the severity and impact of COVID-19, project deadlines and daily business should not be neglected. It may be helpful to set aside time to communicate expectations to employees, and to train teams to assist with assignments across departments. Implementing processes to keep track of project progress, and encouraging individuals to report to managers with regular status updates can better allow for business to carry on as usual. Incorporating cross-training between departments may help employees to handle deadlines and projects quickly and effectively despite office absences.
Companies should look for ways to reduce the spreading of germs in the workplace as much as possible. Ensure employees have access to proper hygiene tools such as alcohol-based hand sanitizer, adequate handwashing facilities and disinfecting wipes. Businesses can also introduce disposable coffee cups, utensils and paper towels to the breakroom to keep germs from spreading. If organizations have a nurse or health care facility on site, it may be beneficial to have a trained professional speak to the organization regarding symptoms to look for, best practices and risks associated with the virus.
It may be helpful for business leaders to consider implementing guidelines for remote working to make certain that employees are prepared to conduct business if it becomes necessary to be away from the office. It is also important that managers and employees are provided with the tools and capabilities to do so effectively. Consider investing in technology that may aid in communication, such as video conferencing tools or online chat systems, to allow for team collaboration when face-to-face meetings may not be possible. Companies may be able to help keep the number of employees impacted to a minimum by utilizing technology to make working from home a viable alternative.
Regardless of the time of year, it can be beneficial for organizations to explore wellness options and alternatives to prepare for possible safety and workplace threats. Having a plan in place can help lay the groundwork for the unpredictable future.
— Doug Walker is a manager of HR services with Insperity, a leading provider of human resources and business performance solutions. For more information about Insperity, call 800-465-3800 or visit insperity.com.