UK employees are being urged to return to the office. However, research by ManPower Group has found British workers to be the most worried to return in Europe, because of coronavirus second wave fears.
So, how can employers reassure their staff that the workplace is a safe environment, day after day and week after week, as the pandemic continues?
According to Mark Flanagan, Chair of the Board of Governors of the UK Safe to Trade Scheme, rebuilding employee confidence is not just about employers mitigating the risk of spreading Covid-19 but is also about engaging staff with the changes being made. As well as the constantly changing legal rules that employers must follow to be deemed Covid-safe, Mark believes there are other softer measures that employers should consider to boost employee confidence:
- Awareness of national and regional laws
- Training of employees
- Promoting togetherness
- Get professional help
With the growing discourse on mental health, now more than ever, it is essential that employees check in with how their colleagues are feeling. They should be offering additional support or adjustments for people who need a little time or space to help them return to the office.
After months of living in worry and isolation, the last thing employees need on their return to the office is to be met by big red warning signs that scream ‘danger’ – more fear isn’t going to generate a productive workforce. Signage does not have to be scary – companies can present safety messaging in their brand voice and make it feel part of their brand identity. When implemented this way, the messages not only resonate more, but also stop employees from feeling like they are walking back into a completely different business.
Understandably, staff are wary of the risks of returning to offices without the assurances of safety, this is in contrast with the desire to return to a more normal situation. Understanding this disparity is important for companies to ensure peace of mind amongst their staff.
A scheme such as the Safe to Trade – the accreditation program that Mark Flanagan, CEO of Shield Safety Group, chairs, has been designed to ensure staff are protected and restore employee confidence, instilling trust among staff that offices are safe.
The coronavirus situation is a fluid one, with hazards and controls that need updating as government advice changes. This has implications for the validity of any risk assessment, as well as the time that is spent monitoring the situation. Working with safety experts can mitigate risks, save time, and enable businesses to create worry-free environments for everyone.