Updates from Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and Hospital Foundation
As restaurants and retail stores are slowly opening up, everyone is trying to find the right balance of what to do. Many small business owners are struggling to figure out when they should start to let employees come back to work or even rehire. Businesses that develop a plan of action not only provide structure for reopening the work environment, but also help employees feel more comfortable about returning.
So what are some ways to prepare? First and foremost, determine if the office space is conducive to social distancing. Can your employees work at least 6 feet away from each other? Are you going to have rules in common areas about wearing masks or if clients come into the office?
Everyone handles stress differently. Recognizing its symptoms will help business owners re-engage with their employees. Understanding that some of your staff may return irritated or angry, while others may live in denial. Guilt, uncertainty, nervousness and anxiety are also common. Some employers may notice that an employee appears unmotivated or lacks the ability to concentrate.
It’s important to remember we don’t know what others may be experiencing that are influencing his or her emotions. Employees may re-enter their work environment with concerns of being exposed to the virus, lack of sanitization, nervousness about close work spaces, and fear of interacting with others not wearing masks. Some may be relieved and happy to be back, but are secretly concerned about being away from family.
Think about how to navigate employees coming back to a heavy workload. Has their job changed? Does their job need to be restructured due to change in the work place? If the business was compromised during COVID-19, don’t be surprised if some employees secretly wonder how long they will have their job.
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Employers that take time to listen and understand returning employee concerns will likely find the transition back smoother. Meet with the leadership team in advance of opening to make sure everyone is on the same page with the restart.
Don’t assume your supervisors understand how to read employee stress and anxiety. They may need training. They may also be experiencing uncertainty. Share with them how you want them to manage through workforce issues. Be a mentor and a listening ear.
As more of the team returns, take time to communicate with each employee even if it is brief. If possible, bring everyone together while maintaining social distancing and wearing masks to share expectations.
Ensure the staff have a consistent routine if possible. Make sure they take breaks and encourage them to spend a few minutes outside. Share small successes and achievements.
Studies have found many health problems are related to stress. If you notice an employee experiencing symptoms such as chest pain, severe headaches, high blood pressure, shortness of breath, dizziness or nausea, get them to their physician or the hospital as quickly as possible.
Businesses that strategically plan their reopen by offering employees time to get comfortable with being back and who can be flexible and nimble until things settle down will gain loyalty and trust from the team. The more coordination you can do together will not only improve your chance of survival, it may actually set the path for your business to thrive again in the future.
Source: Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation
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