As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt daily life and the global economy, employers of every size and in every industry have had to adjust their business plans to maintain their commitment to employees well-being. Now, as American cities and states that imposed stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders begin to slowly lift restrictions on businesses and public spaces, employers will have to navigate a new set of challenges that will come with reopening their offices and businesses. To support our clients in this period of transition, ABD is hosting a webinar series centered on returning to the workplace.
Last week, we hosted our second return-to-workplace webinar,Leadership Q&A: Developing Your Return to Workplace Plan.Kurt de Grosz, President of ABD, gave the keynote address, andChana Anderson, CCP, PHRca, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Senior Vice President and Practice Leader of ABDs HR Services Practice moderated the discussion. The panel featured leaders from organizations across many different industries:Donna Wilson, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Partner of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP;Amy Mosher, Chief People Officer of iSolved HCM,Carly Hare, Coalition Catalyst/ National Director of CHANGE Philanthropy; andFelicia Reid, Employment Law Attorney of Hirschfeld Kraemer LLC.
The group discussed the key elements of a return-to-workplace plan, including creating a multidisciplinary team to develop and roll out the plan, assessing risk in the workplace, understanding employee sentiments, and identifying sources of truth.
Here are some of their key takeaways for employers:
- Startby thinking about your constituencies: your colleagues, clients, and community.
- Rememberthat not everyone is similarly situated (i.e., colleagues in New York are having very different experiences from those in California and people with children may have different needs from those without children, etc.)
- Developa multi-disciplinary team to help create and execute the return-to-workplace plan, being sure to include key stakeholders and experts who can add valuable knowledge.
- Be open and honestwith your employees. State the facts and think about communicating milestone certainty (e.g., We will not return before X date.) People appreciate candor.
- Understandthat sentiments about returning to work among your employees will be on a continuum from excitement to anxiety
- Dont make assumptions. This is an unprecedented time for employers and employees alike seek feedback at every stage of this transition.
Important elements for employers to focus on:
- Considerhow you tier your employees (e.g., essential, volunteers, etc.) and invite them back to the workplace.
- Usesurveys or other sources of feedback so you can better target action items.
- Work to understandyour audience and know that you may have to tailor your outreach to meet your employees where they are (millennials and boomers typically consume media very differently!).
- Identify your own sources of truth whether it be the CDC, state and local public entities, industry-specific guidance, etc.
Additionally, employers have a duty to assess the health and safety risks faced by their employees; ensuring physical, mental,chemical,and biological hazards are detected.
Below aresome ofthe elements we discussed for assessing risk in the workplace:
- Identifyhazards and areas of potential exposure.
- Physically walk throughthe work environment, where possible.
- Determinewho may be exposed and how.
- Assessthe level of risk by role and interactions.
- Conductscenario-planning to fully understand business implications.
- Involvethose who perform roles for accuracy of information.
- Developa course of action to mitigate the risk.
For those who were not able to join us, or if you would like to revisit,clickherefor the webinar audio and slides.
Visit theABD COVID-19 Portalto register for upcoming webinars in our Moving Forward Together: Return to Workplace Series.
- 5/28 Establish a Safe Physical Environment
- 6/4 Prepare for a Positive Employee Experience