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Preparing to Return to Work: HR in a Post-Lockdown World

Preparing to Return to Work: HR in a Post-Lockdown World

We are living in very strange times and it is not the first time I have said that…

Who would ever have thought 3 months ago that we would all be cooped up in our own homes for days at a time, let out for an hour, having to queue for our shopping, fretting about toilet roll and tinned tomatoes, baking banana bread and relying on a thing called Zoom we had barely even heard of? Some days, I feel like we’re trapped in some weird apocalyptic Netflix drama – but maybe that’s just because I’ve spent a while watching that too – Tiger King and White Lines anyone?

 

Moving Forward – HR in a Post-Lockdown World

However, lockdown didn’t keep us down for long. We adapted surprisingly quickly, kept going and it’s starting to feel like we’re finally coming out on the other side.

That’s the reason for this blog to be honest…

My raison d’etre is to help small businesses navigate the intricacies and plain madness that comes from employing staff, so I decided to make things easier for you all and put together a pack with all the common questions I am being asked by you about the ‘BIG RETURN’ – along with some guidance, information and resources that should help ease your concerns.

The amazing Helen Fleet will also be contributing from a financial standpoint (we are all in this together).

 

So, you want to open up and start the BIG RETURN, what should you do?

Firstly, you need to think about what your organisation needs to look like; i.e. will it be the same or will you need to pivot and change?

  • Do you need to bring people back into the office or keep them working from home for a while or for the foreseeable future?
  • Have you furloughed staff you need to bring back or are you keeping them on furlough or a bit of both?
  • Will some staff be returning at all?

 

Bringing People Back

What should you be considering before you bring people back? Making these considerations is a great place to start…

1. The big first tranche of returnees will occur in July where the furlough rules are changing to allow employees to be furloughed on a part-time basis. If you need to take employees off furlough, it is advisable to write to them to have it confirmed. In our COVID support kit, we’ve crafted a brief returning from furlough letter template to make this an easy task.

2. You need to do a Risk Assessment for each returning employee.  Unfortunately, the only COVID specific risk assessment I could find is from the Northern Ireland HSE but its great and I highly recommend you use this as a basis for your risk assessments. You can view it within the risk assessment pack of our toolkit here.

3. You need to get your offices ready so that the appropriate level of social distancing can occur. It’s also a good idea to deep clean the office if you can and provide plenty of hand sanitiser, soap and notices from the HSE around hygiene and safe practice. Encouraging good hygiene practice will help to keep to kill the virus.

4. You also need to think about your employees’ journeys to work. Does this put them at risk?

5. It may be worth considering staggering and extending hours, and whether working more flexibly could help your business get back quicker. Check out our Flexible Working Policy within our pack for more information on this.

6. Do you even want your employees in the office at all – or would you prefer they worked from home? If so, we’ve also created a Working from Home Policy to help you formalise and control this agreement.

7. You may want to restructure.

8. You may need to consider redundancies.

These are just some of the considerations you may want to make before rushing back to work.

 

When They Return

Mental health, divorce, feelings of anxiety and displacement, pure joy and relief – these are just some of the things you must prepare to face on your return.

But don’t worry, CrosseHR are here to help and we have you covered. Our comprehensive Return to Work Toolkit has been drawn up by experts and our team. It’s designed to help provide you with everything you need to get started, including:

  • Introduction
  • Information on Ending Furlough
  • Return to Work Letter Template
  • Information for Directors
  • Health and Wellbeing Policy
  • Sickness and Isolation Support
  • Health and Safety Guidance
  • Changing Terms and Conditions
  • Childcare and Returning to Work
  • Maternity Issues
  • Conducting Return to Work Interviews
  • Flexible Working Policy
  • Flexible Working Request Form
  • Flexible Working Methods
  • Homeworking Policy
  • Stress Awareness Template
  • Supporting Employees – Debt
  • Energise – Tackle Business Finances with Helen Fleet
  • Supporting Employees – Divorce

So feel free to download it, it’s on us! And, if you want to chat further, we are always delighted to help.

Olga Crosse, on behalf of the team at Crosse HR.

 

 

Tortured geniuses. Every small business has one.

Tortured geniuses. Every small business has one.

I recently attended the Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty exhibition at the V&A in London. Even if you have no interest, or in my case the wallet, to purchase any couture or high end designer clothes, you could not fail to be in awe of the man’s extreme talent and unbelievable imagination. It did strike me though more than once when I was gazing at a structure for the head, aka a hat or an ethereal dress, how did this genius die alone hanging in a wardrobe in his home clearly having had enough? He had the world at his feet literally, surrounded by the world’s beauties, making pots of money for his employers, yet no one appeared to have any idea that the guy was in a state and about to take his own life. How can this happen? How can you spot the signs of stress, depression of mental health issues at work?

Spotting the signs of stress, depression or mental health issues at work

In my experience this is all too common unfortunately. Most of us either aren’t aware of the signs of stress, depression or mental health issues, or tip toe around them when we encounter them at work. It’s a hard thing to confront, but I firmly believe that employers can train their people to spot the signs and provide help. Shouting, explosions of tempers and crying are all sure fire signs all is not well, as is increased sickness absence, coming in hung-over, dilated eyes, unkempt appearance, dips in performance where previously there has not been any, rapid weight gain or loss, as well as firm denials when asked.

Clear policies are the route to a clear conscience

Now its not easy to tackle, or identify anything is wrong, but having an employee assistance scheme in place is a step forward Employee Assistance is otherwise known as EAP, which is basically a service employers can buy (usually from their Occupational Health provider like BUPA or HCA) where employees can ring a confidential helpline to discuss their problems and seek advice usually on divorce, debt, redundancy, depression, problems at work. Its totally confidential but can be very useful for some people. EAP doesn’t cost that much, and CrosseHR can help.

Even without EAP you can still make positive steps to supporting employees who are showing signs of stress, depression or mental health issues. Introduce a clear policy on how the organisation tackles stress (usually under Health & Safety policy or a separate policy), and have a nominated person or organisation that employees are made aware of as someone they go to initially if there is a problem – that might be someone internally such as Occupational Health, or external counselling services, the GP, or the Samaritans for example.

Whether you have an employee assistance scheme or simply an internal policy, make sure it’s well promoted, you foster a general atmosphere of openness, and promote good management practices – it’s amazing what regular 121’s between managers and their reports can reveal and not just about work. It all goes without saying that a ‘human HR person’ always helps and not one obsessed with the rule book! As a final note, the Mental Health Foundation itself calls for us to learn ‘mindfulness’ which is sound advice to any business. You can read more on that here.

Believe you me, and I have proof, if you spot a problem an employee is having, support them, offer them help and they sort it out, you will have a loyal, dedicated employee for a very very long time, not to mention a clear conscience !

 

Image credit: Nata Sha / Shutterstock.com