In the wake of the pandemic, more employees are returning to the workplace. Although we may be in for more as far as new virus variants, it’s looking like the swell of returning to the office environment isn’t going to withdraw any time soon. Making the workplace safer for returning employees isn’t just a courtesy; it’s the best way of doing business. A safer workplace offers numerous benefits to both employers and employees, such as:
- Protection against legal action
- Ability to boast better safety to potential job candidates
- Reduce employee sick days
- Keep entire staff safe
Protection Against Virus
Even though the worst of the pandemic appears to be over, it’s worth it to take steps to protect against viral transmission. Consider the following tips to keep your staff virus-free:
- Install multiple sterile wipe stands throughout the workplace for staff and customers to use.
- Rearrange desks so that employees can socially distance while they work.
- Hang posters with information about safety precautions around Coronavirus.
- Hire cleaning staff to come in on a daily basis to sterilize the office.
- Offer extended sick leave for staff who present with symptoms.
- Create work at home schemes for staff with sick family members.
The last thing you want when trying to keep employees safe inside is to have them get harmed after they leave the office. There are several things you can do to ensure safety once your staff gets off duty:
- Have a policy that no employee walks to their car alone.
- Monitor correct operation of parking lot lights and install more lights as needed.
As employees navigate around the office, they should have a guarantee of a modicum of safety.
- Make sure that hallways and stairwells are brightly lit.
- Consider installing hallway cameras.
- Don’t allow stacking of boxes over five feet high on shelves or standalone.
- Post hazardous materials warnings where appropriate.
Work Environment Safety
While physical safety is essential for your employees, it’s just as important to nurture a safe work environment in terms of expectations.
Written HR Policies
It’s essential to provide HR policies to all staff, including management level employees. This proffers two benefits; one for you as the boss and another for the employee.
You benefit because these written policies provide backup if any action is necessary, such as firings. The staff benefits because this lets them know exactly what is expected as a member of your organization. Be sure that your HR policies don’t go against state or federal regulations. It’s a good idea to have these created by a professional, and then customize them to suit the needs of your business.
Create a Penalty Warning System
A penalty warning system is a great way to curb employees who might be falling into a path where loss of employment is over the horizon. This gives you a path forward to keeping your investment—your employee—on track while reminding them about the HR policies that are in place. This kind of warning system isn’t meant to be a punishment; rather, it’s a way for an employee to evaluate their performance and make necessary changes to keep their job.
Another positive benefit of a penalty warning system is that it gives employers a record of policy breaches. In the event that a firing is necessary, this record will serve to protect the employers from potential legal action.
Finally, a penalty warning system makes the workplace safer by giving wayward employees an opportunity to alter their workplace practices before things become dire.
Cubicles are fine as mini workstations, but they don’t meet the mark when privacy is needed. Employees shouldn’t have to worry that their private conversation with a boss or with HR will be overheard by colleagues. Offices where management holds private conversations should have a level of insulation that ensures that passersby can’t overhear anything, even accidentally.
Lock up Sensitive Files
In the same vein, sensitive employee data should be locked away in secure filing cabinets or behind firewalls. This includes especially payroll information, such as wage garnishments from the IRS, sensitive information about health insurance claims and more. Not only does this ensure workplace safety, but it’s your responsibility as a business owner to protect this data.
Have an Employee Suggestion Box
As hokey as it may sound, an employee suggestion box is a great way to get feedback about working conditions. If you allow employees to leave comments and suggestions anonymously, you’ll get a better sense of what they appreciate as well as what they might feel lacking in the workplace.
An even better idea is to have a weekly “theme,” where employees give feedback on the theme. If you make one week’s theme workplace safety, you’ll get honest feedback about what can be done to help make your employees feel safer at work.
Provide Adequate Training
Employee training goes a long way toward workplace safety. For instance, employees with little experience might not know how to safely operate a paper shredder, or other heavy machinery that your business uses. Employee training time is an investment in your employee and your company.
It’s helpful to label information about office equipment, such as warnings regarding proper use. Although nothing replaces the need for adequate training, having labels on complicated equipment does help to remind employees not to rush and to be careful.
Vet New Employees
Your employees should also be safe from other employees. Be sure to vet all new hires to make sure you aren’t bringing in someone whom your other employees will ultimately be susceptible to in any way.
You and your employees deserve to work in an environment free from safe concerns. These tips should help to add extra layers of security to your workplace. Your CPA may be able to offer you some additional tips on how to make your workplace safer in terms of Covid-19, and in other ways.