As the year ends and more businesses are returning to pre-pandemic operational levels, many offices are preparing to welcome back their staff amid the new normal. Understandably, some people are hesitant to return to their desks given they haven’t seen their work colleagues in well over a year.
Even with established protocols, the risk may be too much for some employees to bear. Some have also become accustomed to working from home, and are unused to a more rigid workplace.
If you’re an employer bringing back staff this holiday season, you need to do so with as much precaution and concern for employee welfare as possible. Here are some holiday safety tips to consider as you open up your office doors once more.
Help Your Employees Ease Their Concerns and Create New Traditions
First and foremost, your employees will be coming into the office suffering from some sort of pandemic fatigue. It’s been a long road, and your employees' mental health should be prioritized. Burnout is a serious concern. Both physical and mental wellness should be addressed. Talk with your employees about their qualms being back in the office and set up precaution measures that are easy for everyone to follow.
The holidays are a time when everyone is festive and wants to be in a more celebratory mood. Striking a balance between creating a fun atmosphere and a safe one is key. Having small, socially distanced functions or setting up electronic gift exchanges are good ways to ensure the office feels enjoyable and comfortable without putting anyone’s health at risk. You can also set up a virtual holiday party with other local businesses and spread cheer throughout your community.
Ensure You Follow CDC Recommendations and Government Regulations
Regardless of your plans, ensure that you’re following recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you’re hosting a holiday event, hold it outside when possible, limit the gathering size to reduce potential transmission, and shorten the party’s duration.
And, of course, reinforce all public health measures during and after the party so everyone can enjoy themselves safely. Some companies make masks, sanitizer, and social distancing available. Utilize a solution that is consistent with your company culture.
Arrange your office in such a way that there’s a good amount of room for everyone in your building to move around freely and work in their own safe space. Decluster the office surroundings to improve the comfort level so people can be productive with as little physical interaction as possible.
Be Clear While Training New and Existing Staff
Consider this winter to be your opportunity to clear up as much misinformation as possible with new training programs. Returning staff will also know what they now can and cannot do while on the premises. Work on training aids and any performance support that helps employees feel more comfortable working in the new normal. Teach workers on how they approach clients when they come in contact with them. Also, reinforce the importance of practicing social distancing, both with customers and employees.
An employee app is a fantastic resource for sharing new safety protocols and holiday event information.