Over the last year, there has been a lot of uncertainty for us all. However as more and more businesses start to reopen their doors, we are hopefully moving into a period of CERTAINTY. Now, more than ever, it is important that businesses support their staff and create a positive working culture.

McKees has put together the following guidance for employers to help their employees at this time.

COMMUNICATE: Keep employees, customers and suppliers updated on the steps the business is taking to plan for reopening

Providing a summary or review of your current plans and any changes that have been implemented due to Covid-19 will help everyone feel part of the process and ensure your customers, employees and suppliers feel informed and engaged with your business and your employees feel happy about a return to work.

ENGAGE: Stay in contact

It is essential to stay connected through regular real-time virtual collaboration. Whether it is by tech, phone, or other means, this can help your colleagues feel personally connected, compared to text or email communication. Also, just pick up the phone and talk to them and encourage them to do the same with their colleagues, particularly when they have a problem.

REVIEW: Prepare the return to work strategy

Consult with employees about their working arrangements and when the time has come for people to return to work, ensure the communication channels are clear with all the correct information. 

TALK: Promote a positive, inclusive culture by setting up regular virtual staff coffee meetings, quizzes and team meetings

A lot of employees have been working at home for a year. There will be an adjustment period as we come out of lockdown. Whilst we might not at the stage of in-person gatherings, employers can be proactive in organising virtual social interactions to maintain positive relationships. As a manager, you might even continue to mark birthdays or other milestones via virtual coffee catch ups or after-work drinks. Be creative.

ASSESS: Encourage a healthy work-life balance by setting time limits

Work-life balance is an essential aspect of an employee’s ability to work safely and productively. You need to agree on working hours that employees know they are not expected to work beyond. Reminding employees to work in ways that are kind to their mind and body will also help to prevent burnout during this challenging time – which is also in your business’ interests.

INSULATE: Educate staff of ways to stay mentally healthy as they readapt to their working conditions

Offer tutorials and tools on mindfulness, webinars on resilience, or merely suggesting employees go for a walk is especially beneficial to their health and wellbeing. In turn, being open and transparent in your interactions with employees also lets them know they are not alone.

NEW THINKING: Recognise contribution and affirm your colleagues and staff

Many employees are  going the extra mile now. Reward their efforts by doing simple things like sending a box of chocolates, flowers or an Amazon Gift Card.

TENACITY: Stay innovative during this time

Your colleagues are relying on you and looking to you for leadership, support and guidance. Perhaps use some of your time every day to reach out to your suppliers and other SMEs via LinkedIn, telephone and video link to proactively engage with them.This time could build new relationships.

YOU: Take care of yourself, your co-directors and team

Use this time for training and thinking. Find relevant webinars, books, articles and groups that can help you think about your business more clearly so you can re-engineer some of your processes and how your company works.