As the country prepares to ease further lockdown restrictions over the coming months, people across the UK are looking forward to seeing life return to what looks more like normal. Shops and restaurants are reopening, and offices are preparing to join them in due course.
Yet, many of those re-entering workplaces are being hit hard by new anxieties often caused by concerns about their safety. So here are five ways an employer can help their employees to feel safe at work upon their return.
1. Make sure you provide personal protective equipment
One of the best ways an employer can make their staff feel safe is by supplying the correct PPE for their role. Nothing says ‘as your workplace, we care about you’ more than actually providing the equipment that does just that.
While many employers will have been providing PPE suited to their industry for years (hard hats on a construction site, for example), very few are used to taking into account a pandemic on top of this.
Whatever your industry, make sure you stock face masks in a range of styles and sizes, and for inclusivity, you could purchase transparent masks for your entire team to help those hard of hearing to lip-read.
You could also consider keeping a supply of hand sanitiser and gloves at stations dotted around the workplace. This helps employees to keep themselves safe and reminds them you’re looking out for them.
2. Explain the safety measures in place
Even if your business is doing everything it can to keep employees safe, such as providing PPE and frequent training sessions, many might still feel anxious if they don’t understand the reasons for any protocol.
Upon returning to work, make sure you talk through with staff all the safety measures you’ve put in place so they understand the effect each one has. Alongside this, hand out flyers with more information on the proper procedure so they always have the information to refer to should they feel unsure.
3. Give frequent training sessions
Alongside having general meetings to explain why safety measures are in place, you should also make sure staff have a structured training program, so they know how to remain safe at work. By setting aside time for staff to do formal training and keeping track of when they partake in it, you demonstrate to employees you care about their safety.
If you can’t conduct the safety training yourself, you can try outsourcing to various training companies. They will usually design a syllabus suited to your business, keep track of who has completed training and send you reminders when training needs to be updated.
4. Make sure everyone feels cared for
An essential part of keeping your employees safe is making sure they feel cared for. Ensure every staff member knows who they should contact if they have personal concerns or concerns about their safety.
You should also encourage rapport within the team. Try to set aside time for staff training days, arrange regular meetups and treat staff to a Christmas or summer party. Finally, if your business needs one, kitting staff out with their names on staff uniform can make them feel like part of a wider team.
5. Check-in with your team members often
Sometimes no amount of training sessions, general meetings or saying that your ‘door is always open’ is enough to make people feel secure. So make sure you set aside time every couple of months with every member of your team for a one-to-one meeting.
A one-to-one meeting allows you to have a more personalised catch-up, allows your employee to speak candidly about any of their concerns and provides a safe space for any issues or questions to be ironed out or answered.
As businesses reopen, it is likely many staff members might be feeling more anxious than ever before while at work. The past year is like nothing most of us have ever experienced before. Yet by sticking to the above five suggestions, you can get on the road to making sure every member of your team feels safe in their role.