Preparing for Re-Entry into the Workplace

As businesses prepare to re-open their doors, they will be faced with many challenges from both their customers as well as their employees. While most employees are ready to return to “normal” it is unclear what “normal” will be. The only constant right now is we do not know what the future will look like.

In addition to addressing economic concerns, employers are tasked with rebuilding a workplace culture that must address the issues of fear of exposure, childcare demands, skill gaps, and pay.  It is expected that workplace lawsuits will increase over the next year and unless employers are cautious, thorough, and utilize their HR Business Partners in this process, they will find themselves paying out high dollar settlement claims. As you prepare to bring back your employees, there are some key things to consider in how you communicate the message regarding returning to work;

  1. Evaluate the new priorities of your business
  2. Determine what skills will be needed to carry out business priorities
  3. Evaluate the financial impact on the business regarding the number of staff needed to carry out the business priorities
  4. The return to work notice should be written and outline the conditions of the return (i.e. date, #of hours, pay)
  5. Include “at-will” employment language in the notice
  6. Indicate if there is a change in job duties, schedule, or rate of pay (based on the business priorities)

When constructing your return to work notice, consider using your offer letter format for consistency purposes.  This will allow you to address any changes that need to be noted and begin to build the expectation of how you will move forward as an organization.  Consistency in communicating the message will help business leaders and employees understand the needs of the business and their role in helping build a successful “new normal.” Make a true effort to listen with Empathy, respond with Concern, and act with Compassion—it WILL make a difference!

 

Tina R. Macon, MA, CBA, CEQC
President/Senior Consultant
AllMac & Associates

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Topic: Precedence vs. Policy: which one is driving your organization?

 

Your company policy states that when an employee is on short term disability they will not be expected to work and in order to ensure that they focus on their personal health their work email will be disengaged until they return to work. After a bad performance review, employee X complains about how unfairly they are being treated, especially since they were forced to work while out on leave. From your investigation you discover a copy of an email trail that clearly reflects that the manager had been communicating with this employee while they were on leave. When you confront the manager their response is that “the work needed to get done and the employee was willing." Upon further investigation you discover that other managers have also been communicating with and having employees work while out on short term disability.

Can you rectify this situation and get your organization on track?

 

The answer to the question is YES you can! Several things need to happen quickly in order to restore organizational balance within your organization.

 

Education & Training

Educate the current manager on the long term effects of operating outside of company policy. While on leave, if the employee gets injured while performing work for the company, it may become a worker's compensation issue. It also could become a violation of FMLA as well as a possible workplace bullying issue (if the employee can produce enough evidence to prove they felt bullied into doing the work). Review the performance review with the manager and determine if some areas need to be revisited. A performance issue may truly exist and the manager may need help in properly addressing it outside of the review process.

 

Train all managers on the legal implications of violating company policies and setting precedence. Many managers are unaware that they can be personally sued for their actions and they may/may not be covered by the organization.

 

Follow up with the employee

Oftentimes once an issue is brought up or a complaint is filed, there is little to no follow-up with the employee. In order to restore harmony and build trust, communication is key. Depending on the circumstance, HR professionals may find themselves in the role of mediating or facilitating conversations with the affected parties. Ensure that all parties are given proper voice space, courtesy, and respect throughout the process. Managers need to feel that they can continue to lead their departments and employees need to feel that they are valued and respected. Both parties need to feel that they are being heard and treated fairly throughout the process.

 

Human Resource and Organizational Development professionals play a significant role in building and maintaining a work environment that is built on trust and respect. Through proper coaching, education and training of all staff it will become easier to build a cohesive team across the entire organization.

 

If you have any questions or need more information on this topic, please complete our Contact Form, or contact Tina Macon by telephone at 513-289-5073.

 

Tina R. Macon, President/Senior Consultant
AllMac & Associates

"Connecting People, Processes, and Productivity"

  

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