The End is Nigh!
No not that one, the one where we can look forward to a return to the office for our team members who have been furloughed or working from home during this last crazy year or so. An end to lockdown, finally!
But are you ready for it what that means for you and your workforce?
I mean the changes in working practices, processes, and environment that we need to consider and have in place for employees.
In this piece I do not intend to provide all the answers necessarily, just provide food for thought and raise some questions that we need to face up to.
Businesses have had to adapt working practices and manage cost in ways they never had to consider before. Many have shown great adaptability to manage their way through remote working and the world of online meetings very well.
The people problem
The major challenge that I do not personally feel we have seen or had to deal with is the people problem.
As business leaders we are expected to have the answers, be on the front foot and lead. Now is the time to do that as we manage our employees back into the workplace. I am sure we all want to provide a caring culture for our employees? In many respects if you want to achieve your financial goals then your team must come first.
The Health and Safety Executive will provide any of you with the requisite information you need in terms of social distancing and hygiene management you need to provide in your business when more team members return.
Some of the bigger questions we need to consider are:
- What new working practices will you provide your team?
- Will you offer flexible hours for them to be in the office and when they can work from home?
- Will you adapt working hours so that they can work from home one day a week or more?
- Do you need to have rotas in place that provide the chance for all team members to work in the office but adhere to the HSE requirements at the same time?
- What will your policy be towards staff who do not wish to have the vaccine or other staff do not wish to sit near them?
- How will you approach and support the needs of your employees and colleagues associated with their mental health and general wellbeing?
We need to remember there is no case law to support how business owners should adapt and adopt changes to contracts and working practises. There will be in a year or so! My advice is not to make decisions on the hoof. Keep close to your HR support, employment lawyers and TAB Board colleagues.
I raise the final question above because I believe this is critical.
Support is vital
I read a great article recently from James Timpson (CEO of Timpsons) where he said he has three secret weapons in his business: Elaine, Marion, and Janet. One is a trained counsellor, one a financial health first aider and finally Janet who is Director of Happiness. James accepts not every business can afford three superstars like his, but his point is that every person in your business needs to be heard, helped and nurtured.
The mindset, health and perspective our employees have or are facing as they return to the workplace has been influenced by extreme circumstances; from losing loved ones because of the pandemic to financial hardship, lack of motivation, even agoraphobia. The needs and demands they have from their employer could well be different to before.
Have you really given enough thought to this, are you ready for it?
And don’t forget yourself in all of this and what you need to stay well-balanced and healthy.