How will lock down restrictions affect the workforce?
With the number of coronavirus infection rates rising across the UK, we are seeing localised areas being forced back into lockdown and nationwide changes to socialising rules. The restrictions are being introduced with the aim of controlling the spread of the virus but how will new social restrictions affect your workforce?
As of Monday 14th September 2020, the government guidance for England says that people can gather socially, in a private setting, in groups of no more than 6 people. However, workplaces and schools are still allowed to gather in higher numbers and these conflicting ideas may have an impact on your workforce.
The restrictions put in place as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic have been difficult to follow from the onset. There are different rules across the 4 different countries within the UK and we are now seeing different rules being applied to different counties! It is hard to keep up. On top of this, we are now seeing different rules for our personal life and our work life.
This can be confusing for a workforce. Why are they allowed to come into the office to work, with their co-workers (whilst following social distancing rules) but aren’t allowed to meet loved ones under the same conditions?
It would be reasonable to expect that rules like this may trigger confusion, resentment, and anxiety. So, what should you do?
Keep up to date with the changes
Make sure that you are clear about the rules which apply to you, your county and your country. Having confidence in your knowledge will pass confidence on to your staff. If you are clear about the rules and what you know to be the latest updates, there will be no room for discrepancies.
It is important keep communication open with staff. Give them space to share their worries and take time to offer clear and consistent information about what you are doing to help keep the work environment safe and the expectations you have of your workforce.
You have a duty of care to your staff through out these times, so it is important that you stay alert to their wellbeing and any changes in behaviour.
Any new restriction that are brought in are a reminder that the virus is still around and we must all do our bit to help reduced the spread and protect the NHS. As a workplace, you play an important role in this and therefore, you must remain vigilant. Make sure that any employee you bring into the workplace is brought in because it is essential, safe to do so and mutually agreed.
And, of course, continue to support staff to work from home where this is possible.
Policies and Procedures
Take time to review your current policies and procedures and make any amendments that may be necessary during this time. Consult with staff about any changes and ensure they understand the reasoning behind any changes made. Use this time to plan ahead: what will happen if we are placed into another lockdown? What will happen if your workplace is told to close? By having all of these things in place, you will be able to keep staff calm and informed.
Review your current safety procedure and assess whether they need to be altered or adapted to reduce safety risks further.