Gyms, nail salons, hair salons and barbershops, movie theaters, and other public-facing, nonessential businesses were significantly impacted by COVID-19. As if closing once wasn’t bad enough, all businesses are preparing for a potential second wave from the COVID-19 pandemic. While you might have re-opened or are preparing to re-open your business, there are some best practices to incorporate to ensure you are both taking every precaution necessary to protect yourself, your staff, and your clients, as well as prepared for any unexpected closures or future crises that may arise.
Review Government and Public Health Guidelines
Local, state, and federal government regulations on public health guidance policies will vary by location. For example, states being hit hard by COVID-19, such as Michigan, Arizona, California, and New York may have stricter or extended stay at home orders than states with fewer cases. Governments typically align with public health and safety guidelines to ensure the communities they serve are taking proper precautions and enforcing regulations to prevent further spread. It is imperative for business owners to stay informed of any legal or regulatory changes that may affect their business and maintain compliance with all local, state, and federal guidelines.
Evaluate Your Organization’s Risks
Part of staying ahead of the curve is to identify what’s working and what’s not, as well as being proactive in developing solutions to problems before they occur.
Conduct a walk-through of your office and evaluate any areas of risk for exposure. For example, placing friendly reminders of physical distancing, wearing face masks, handwashing and hand sanitizer usage, and other things that can contribute to preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
Prepare for worst-case scenario: a second wave. This means developing standards of procedure, creating or updating remote work policies, drafting emergency communications, and assembling an emergency response team should another unexpected crisis occur.
Once you have assessed and identified any risks, the next step is to control the risks and monitor the results. For example, mitigating risk can fall under three categories: (1) risk avoidance – eliminating the risk (i.e., allowing employees to work from home to avoid exposure during peak times), (2) risk control – implementing preventative measures, and (3) risk transfer – involving a third party to assist with managing risk(s). Monitoring the results simply involves measuring effectiveness of risk management and reassessing policies and procedures if needed.
Implement and Enforce Workplace Safety
Implementing workplace safety can range from day-to-day operations to incorporating personal protective equipment and supplies. Day-to-day operational changes might include alternating shift hours to reduce overlap of employees entering and exiting the building, screening employees before entering the building, and improving workplace conditions (i.e., investing in high-efficiency air filters, increasing ventilation, setting up plastic sneeze guards where applicable). Personal protective equipment can include supplying anti-bacterial wipes, hand sanitizer, face masks, and gloves (if applicable).
Maintain Consistent, Transparent Communications with Employees
Effective communications with employees require a balance of consistency and transparency. To maintain consistent, transparent communications with employees, employers should explain management decisions and open to employee feedback, offer as much information as possible and/or necessary regarding the evolving situation, regularly discuss the future of the organization, and convey empathy as everyone responds to situations differently. Similarly, provide as much notice as possible for any substantial changes to the business operations, such as temporary closure or shifting to remote work environments.
Business continuity and strategizing for future unexpected situations can significantly impact an organization’s survival. Partnering with a PEO like VensureHR can also increase your chances as our HR experts are able to provide HR best practices and ensure compliance with OSHA guidance for safely re-opening your business. Contact VensureHR for a free HR diagnostic today!