Managing employees after the pandemic
As we return to traditional ways of working and emerge from the pandemic, businesses are having to give consideration to managing their teams face to face again. Some key areas to consider are listed below:
Throughout the course of the pandemic, mental health has been exacerbated and has become one of the most significant topics within the workplace. It is extremely important to discuss employee wellbeing and provide an outlet for employees if they need help.
Implementing an Employee Assistance Programme helps employees access support from qualified and skilled counsellors but if this is not practical then consider training managers to become Mental Health First Aiders, to ensure you organisation is adequately prepared to manage any issues that arise.
Ensure that any return to the workplace from the pandemic is communicated clearly, helping employees to return to work, understanding how the office will function and what measures have been put in place which may be different from the way the office operated previously.
Working time and time off
It is important to ensure that employees have been able to take their annual leave, and if there has been holiday carried over that the arrangements for using it are clear. Encourage employees to schedule in their annual leave by a certain date/month to ensure everyone takes their annual leave for the year. Communicate any temporary change to holiday rules and ensure that a check is done on who has outstanding leave so that there is not a build-up of accrued holiday at the end of the year.
Make sure that healthy conversations are held around attendance – reporting absence and lateness and ensuring that those employees who are still working remotely are properly managed in respect of their working time. Whilst lateness was a significant topic of conversation pre-pandemic, throughout the duration of the pandemic the concern has now turned to employees working more than their contracted hours when at home, as they struggle to differentiate between home and working life.
If you do have employees working from home, consider if they are working more than their contracted hours. To overcome this, either change their contracted hours or refrain from contacting them outside of working hours.
Issuing and updating essential documents.
Under the Good Work Plan which introduced a raft of employment legislation changes in 2020, employees must now receive a contract of employment from day 1 of employment and this must also be signed before they start.
Prepare new employees’ contract of employment in plenty of time before their start date and use clear and concise language within the contract of employment, avoiding legal language where possible, to ensure that employees can easily understand what is being offered and expected of them.
Remember too, that if you wish to make changes to an employee’s terms or conditions once they have been agreed, there must be consultation and agreement from both parties before any change is made.
Many workplaces have grappled with the controversial topic of whether their employees are vaccinated or not. Whilst you cannot make vaccination mandatory within your workplace (unless you are a business that falls under the mandatory vaccination set by the government) it may be important to establish the proportion of your workforce who are vaccinated to understand who would be able to return to work if they received a negative PCR test, following close contact with a positive case. There is no issue with asking employees to confirm their vaccination status; but beware of making judgements based on the information you receive. Please note, that whilst you can ask this question, employees do not need to answer the question.
Health and Safety
All businesses need to carry out risk assessments. If an employee is working from home you must carry out a Display Screen Equipment assessment to ensure the space is safe and comfortable for long-term working. These notes should also be safely stored so that you can refer back to them. You must ensure equipment is available to employees working remotely so that they can carry out their job.
Considering these important elements now will result in better communication and planning and hopefully alleviate any difficult conversations as employees return to more normalised forms of working. For further advice on any of these subjects contact firstname.lastname@example.org