We are living in a truly unprecedented time. While pandemics themselves are not new to our medical community, never in recent history has the entire world come together to effectively shut down as it has in the past few months. To the many essential workers who continue to provide life-saving help and allow our daily routines to continue – we thank you.
However, a large portion of the population is experiencing a drastic change in their day-to-day life: the furloughed and remote workforce. These employees have had a very different experience for the past few months. After working from home for extended periods (or being off work entirely), going back to the job comes with new challenges. Reboarding, the concept of reintroduction into the workplace is vital to easing through this transition as smoothly as possible.
Before Coming Back to Work
Clearly Communicate Changes
If departments have merged, new team members were added, or new processes implemented, make sure to communicate those to your employees. While a portion of the workforce moved forward with daily activities, new process changes have excluded furloughed workers. For most team members who have been off work during this time, work life has essentially stood still. Clearly communicate any updates to structures and systems upon returning for a smoother and more seamless transition.
Offer Complete Transparency
The vast majority of Americans have felt overwhelmed with the amount of information thrown at them during this public health crisis. Oftentimes news sources conflict, with city, state, and national governments all implementing their own guidelines. To stop the cycle of confusion, it’s imperative that organizations offer complete transparency to their employees upon reboarding. Taking it week by week? Let your team know. Still determining the best steps to take? Share that out. Transparency will foster the relationship between employee and employer, leading to more trust than ever before.
Safe & Slow Reintroduction
Many Americans have now been out of work for 6 weeks – and even longer for harder hit areas where the virus began earlier. That number will continue to grow over the following months as states set their own re-opening timelines. Although many organizations are itching to open back up, it’s important to slowly and safely reintroduce your employees. Make sure any new safety procedures are clear and well-communicated in the days/weeks beforehand. Consider what options may be available for you. Temperature checks during arrival, extra sanitizing stations around your buildings, and reduced work hours may all help to prevent transmission.
Upon Coming Back to Work
Stagger Start Dates
This is vital to not only preventing the spread of disease further, but also for protecting the employees who do have to come in earlier. Employees that have been working remotely should continue to do so. Consider staggering your on-site employees’ start dates, beginning with a reduced workforce in each building.
Protect Your Employees in Every Way
Many organizations, especially manufacturing, may have limited ability for remote work, but other measures can be taken to protect your employees upon return. Staggering in-times or working in shifts, daily cleaning procedures, wearing a mask and gloves while on work property, and making sure work stations are at least 6 feet apart are all good practices. Check out the CDC’s website for more ideas on how to keep your employees safe.
Consider Mental Health
The COVID-19 Pandemic will be considered a defining moment of a generation. Fifty years from now, everyone will have a story to tell about what it was like the day the country shut down. For many, this may be a traumatic event, the effects of which remain to be seen. Your employees can work to their highest potential only when their mental and emotional needs are met. Consider offering additional therapy options on your healthcare plan, or providing no-cost hotline numbers where your team can speak with licensed counselors.
Offer Increased PTO and Sick Leave
The 6+ weeks off work has left many Americans struggling financially. While it is public knowledge how COVID-19 spreads, often employees feel they truly can’t afford to take any time off work. Some experiencing symptoms like a low-grade fever may believe it to be something smaller like a cold, and do not tell anyone. It is critical that employers take no chances with the spread of the virus – employees should be given increased PTO and sick leave throughout this period to ensure no employees are forced to work with the virus during this time.
Offer Additional Recognition
Recognition increases employee morale, builds greater teams, and lifts the human spirit. While budgets may be tight, make sure you take the time to recognize your employees a little extra during this time. Remind them of their importance both on the job and off, and that you value them greatly. Social recognition programs like MTM’s Carousel are a great way to offer simple, quick and easy recognition in a way that connects your in-house and remote workforce seamlessly.
Please share with us any additional ways in which you help your employees to reboard effectively during this time. We’re all in this together! Stay safe and healthy – the MTM team is here to help you recognize your employees however you can.