Ten HR steps to get staff through the next stage of COVID-19

By Jim Preen, Director of Crisis Management, YUDU Sentinel

As lockdown in the UK begins to ease, HR departments have to be ready to help staff through the next stage of COVID-19. Some employees will be returning to their offices but many will remain working from home – HR has to look after both groups. Communication is the key and using the right platform or channel has never been more important. Here are ten simple steps to keep your people safe and your offices open.

1.   If a member of staff starts to develop COVID-19 symptoms, ensure they know the process for communicating this. They must make immediate contact with their line manager and have access to an action checklist that clearly explains how they should proceed.

2.   Use an agreed channel to ‘track and trace’ staff. If an employee tests positive for the virus while at the office, other staff members may be forced into isolation and your workplace might have to close once again.

3.   Use a dedicated platform for COVID-19 updates and messages so they are easily distinguished from general work-related communications. Technology is an important part of the HR arsenal and communication is a crucial area in which to leverage it.

4.   Ensure employees have access to a secure, private, platform where they can raise their concerns on all COVID-19 work-related matters. For example, if some staff are not social distancing correctly, concerned employees must have access to a platform where they can raise this along with any other issues.

5.   Many staff will be working from home and may do so for some time. They must feel safe and valued and not isolated.

6.   Make sure your employees know where to seek psychological or mental health support should they need it. I recommend KRTS International.

7.   Send out regular alerts asking if staff are doing OK and allow a simple response. Sometimes people need a prompt to open up.

8.   Continue to provide staff with the most up-to-date information associated with COVID-19, including your company guidance and government and WHO advice. Don’t just hold advice on your website, be proactive and actively share it.

9.   Keep two-way communication channels open. Sharing information with your employees is important, but they must be able to reach out to you with specific questions.

10. Keep a log of all relevant news stories. They may be a useful reference point.

In the UK, track and tracing has got off to a faltering start. HR has a role to play in tracking and tracing staff to keep them safe and to keep companies in business. If they do so, this will also benefit the wider community. Clusters of infections are almost inevitable in our densely populated cities and HR needs to be ready for this challenge, with communication with employees of the highest importance.

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