Safely Bringing Employees Back

by Susan Power, Founder & CEO of PowerUp Leadership


Employers top priority is to safely reintegrate employees back into the physical workplace. A lot has changed over the past few months with COVID-19.  Employers have many new standards and practices to meet from both from a human resources policies and procedures lens, as well as a health and safety perspective. PowerUp Leadership has prioritized the top items that professional service firms need to address before inviting employees back into the physical work space.

Human Resources Post Pandemic Policies

The development of new human resources policies is important before bringing employees back into the workplace. There are many key considerations that need to be addressed through human resources policies and procedures in a post-pandemic world.

  1. What if the employee travels out of province or country, will the employer require the employee to quarantine for two weeks before returning to work?  Will this be paid work from home time, what if the employee’s position cannot be performed 100% remote, will the time be paid?
  2. Will the employer provide additional paid (or unpaid) sick leave over its normal policy if the employee contracts COVID-19?
  3. Does the employer plan to introduce temperature checking protocol before the employee gains access to the work site each day?  What position(s) will be responsible for administering this process, will it be outsourced?
  4. How will the employer handle accommodation requests related to health issues?
  5. How will the employer handle accommodation requests related to child care issues?
  6. How will the employer respond to or discipline employees who do not follow policies concerning wearing non medical facial masks or social distancing?

Health and Safety Considerations

The health and safety considerations for an employer will vary dependent on industry and nature of the business, and the environment in which employees perform the work.  For professional services and technology firms, there are several health and safety considerations for reintegrating employees and clients safely back into the physical workplace.

Employers need to assess the risk of transmission in their workplace.  Asking questions such as:

  1. Where do people congregate, such as break rooms, production lines, or meeting rooms?
  2. What job tasks or processes require workers to come into close proximity with one another or members of the public?
  3. What tools, machinery, and equipment do people come into contact with in the course of their work?
  4. What surfaces are touched often, such as doorknobs, elevator buttons, light switches, equipment, and shared tools?

Health and Safety Related Policies & Procedures

  1. What is the policy around visitors, and having clients on-site?  How will scheduling be coordinated so occupancy maximum number of people on-site are not exceeded.
  2. What is the frequency of sanitization of work spaces and equipment that will happen each day?  Is cleaning outsourced, or assigned to an internal employee’s job duties?
  3. Where physical distance cannot be maintained, what changes to the configuration of the workspace are needed such as installation of plexi glass barriers, reconfiguration of open office spaces to include partitions, and cafeteria reconfigurations?
  4. How will we control and reduce the overall number of workers in the workplace at one time. Continued remote work-from-home schedules or rescheduling some work tasks are ways to do this.
  5. Is physically distancing built into the design of the workplace so that employees are physically spread out through the workplace and the right configuration is set up so workers do not come too close to one another or clients. This may be done by posting occupancy limits (e.g., on elevators, washrooms, and other small spaces), and limiting the number of workers at one time in break locations.

Develop communication plans and training

Communication is vital to the successful reintegration of employees into the workplace. It is a best practice for organizations to set up a COVID-19 internal intranet page to share communications and resources with employees to get familiar with in advantage of returning.  In particular, it is important that all visitors to the workplace can view visible signs  about distancing, hand washing and other policy requirements.  This will help keep employees and customers safe in the workplace.

  • Ensure all staff are trained on the measures put in place and the policies around staying home when sick.
  • Post signage, including occupancy limits and effective handwashing practices. Signage should also be posted at the main entrance indicating who is restricted from entering the premises (including visitors and employees with symptoms).
  • Ensure all managers and supervisors have been trained on monitoring workers and workplace to ensure policies and procedures are being followed.

If your organization does not have a dedicated human resources specialist on staff or needs additional support, reach out and PowerUp Leadership would be pleased to serve that role for you and your team during this critical time.

Learn more about PowerUp Leadership’s Human Resources Advisory support and reach out to book a complementary 30 minute consultation.

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