I find it exciting that more and more conversations and news stories are talking about re-opening the economy. I know that I’m ready to get back “out there” and start meeting people again. I have my PPE, I’m ready to go!
Maybe you have been able to keep your business open, or maybe you have been able to keep your folks busy while working remote. If you have been shut down, then re-opening has some challenges that you’ll need to address.
This piece won’t focus on all of the legal requirements for re-opening. All the rules that were there before the pandemic still apply (Fair Labor Standards Act, Title VII, OSHA to name a few), as do some new rules under FFCRA, the CARES Act, and others. Make sure you understand your obligations and work pro-actively to ensure compliance.
Once you take care of the regulatory matters, you need to work with your employees to make sure they are comfortable and confident when they return. Communication is key, and you should have been communicating with them throughout this entire time. Let them know what steps you have taken regarding PPE, the availability of things like hand sanitizers, social distancing, office disinfecting, etc. But most importantly – LISTEN.
For many of your employees, there could be changes in their lives that you’ll need to think about in your re-opening plan. Were some of your employees counting on school to run into June, and then summer camps to take over the bulk of caring for their children – and now those options don’t exist? Does your employee have scheduling problems related to a significant other whose job situation may have changed during the shut down? What fears do they have about returning to the office or workplace? How you speak with your employees, and how you listen to them can mean the difference between successfully re-opening, or re-opening with significant difficulty.
As a manager, you are not responsible for having all the answers, your job is to help your employees be successful. If you listen empathetically, your employees may provide you with information that can help your entire workforce. And that’s the key, listen for ideas that can be broadly applied and help the most people.
Don’t get into negotiations with your staff. “Will you come back if I do X?” You’ll end up making so many individual deals that you won’t be able to keep track of what you promised to whom, and sooner or later, someone is going to feel that they were treated unfairly.