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  • Anna Harrington

10 - step plan to return employees (shielding) back to the workplace.

So -

1st August is the date for those who have been shielding to return to the workplace in England.

It is reasonable to expect employees who have been shielding to be very anxious about returning to work environment. This is a normal reaction. Having said it is does not mean that you can sit back and just request they return on 1st August which happens to be a Saturday.

You need to get your planning, listening and communication hats on now.

I know you are busy and this is yet another thing you have to think about. I am here to help so use this link to book yourself into 1 of my free 20 minute telephone support sessions.

But just for now here is my 10-step plan

1. Be welcoming.

Communicate that you are looking forward to having them back as part of the team.

2. Listen out for barriers and concerns.

Ask the individual what if anything they are worried about. This could raise concerns about how to get to and from work, how to have time to do hand washing, where will rest breaks be taken, maintaining social distancing, who is in the team, what work will be required of them, feelings of being unable to do their job having forgotten processes and procedures.

3. Offer a health vulnerability health assessment with an occupational health professional .

This is to also ensure that you are doing all you can to address any health disabilities that may put your employee at a disadvantage, (Equality Act 2010) it demonstrates that you care about the protection of their health. It will provide you and the employee with specific guidance on how to keep them safe and healthy at work. It is also an opportunity for the employee to talk through with an occupational health registered professional health concerns. The assessment is 30 minutes which allows plenty of time for this.

4. Risk assess your workplace

If you have not already done this then do it as a priority. I can help you, just book in as above for one of my free sessions. Here is a link to guidance on how to do this.

5. Implement & review controls

Remember the wearing of face masks is the last control measure because it is the weakest. The first control measure is ELIMINATION - consider - DOES THIS WORK NEED TO BE DONE AT THE WORKPLACE? Eliminate the risk is the safest measure. If they already have been doing the work from home then why is coming to work necessary? Beware though, for some people the home environment is not safe or suitable for working, so it could be on these grounds you are able to justify them coming back to the workplace.

6. Most people's mental health has been impacted.

Talk about it. How are really h

ow are you? Showing your vulnerability, can assist employees to open up with truth about how they are feeling. Of course I do not mean breaking down in tears; what I mean is explain how your emotions have been during the lockdown without dominating the conversation. If someone is opening up or upset then just listen rather than explaining how it has been for you. Active listening - keeping your mind open to hearing the other person rather than planning on what you are going to say next and leaping in. Don't be frightened of silence; use it, be silent for a few seconds (10 for instance even count this in your head to stop you leaping in). Say how sorry you are that they feel the way being described. Ask if there is anything you can do to help.

7. Keep communicating

About team membership; who is in the team, roles, what value does the team bring to the organisation, keep focused

on objectives. Ask what is going well, what is causing difficulties, is there anything you can do? Keep updating on changes; with frequent change it becomes fatiguing and difficult to remember what has changed, use a variety of communication channels.

8. Celebrate success, show appreciation.

Celebrating small successes frequently assists to keep employees connected with each other and the work.

9. Prepare to be flexible

Flexible with work content, location, volume, start finish times and breaks. Being out of work for such a long period of time means employees will be deconditioned. This affects stamina - physical, concentration and emotional. Being able to offer work that varies in demands will assist employees to believe they can cope and do a good job which most employees really want to do.

10. Praise for you

Covid-19 has brought an incredibly tough time for all. Being kind, gentle and considerate to yourself will assist you to survive AND thrive.

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