The emergence of Omicron variant of Covid-19 at our borders has dimmed hopes that the pandemic will soon fade away and has employers pondering how they can fulfill their difficult obligations to keep their workforce safe and to meet their business needs.
As business owners what can we do differently this year to ensure a relatively settled and safe continuum (without additional stress) for our workplaces and to try and maintain profits?
Our top tips:
Flexible schedules or staggered work days to reduce the number of employees in a space at any one time. This may suit your workforce with hot summer days being longer.
If you are able to split the work day into two shifts it could be beneficial. If one of your shifts has an exposure event it means the other shift is still available and can potentially increase coverage. We’ve seen this work particularly in hospitality.
Use behavioural techniques to “nudge” employees to maintain social distancing at the workplace. If the capacity of a conference room should be two people, be sure there are only two chairs in it! There’s a great article from the Harvard Business Review here on this
You can't control what your employees do outside the workplace, but you can educate them about how to stay safe at home and in the community. Amazon launched a "Safe at Home" campaign to help employees and their families learn and follow best health practices. While your business may not be the size of Amazon their campaign has some great key take outs worth considering, you can check out a summary article here
Decide when to recommend or require masks in your workplace and make it clear. We’ve found there is a lot of confusion on when and where masks should be worn, so eliminate the confusion and provide certainty around this expectation.
It’s great that there’s financial support for the three day testing period, but really it’s difficult to cover that time while your staff member awaits their test results, so what can we do to manage this. Half the battle here is knowing the rules around testing and the other is putting precautions in place to prevent the spread.
Work and Income provide a COVID-19 Short-Term Absence Payment of $359 per employee and this is available for businesses to claim, including self-employed people, to help pay their employees who cannot work from home while they wait for a COVID-19 test result. Find out more about this payment here
Where working remotely is possible and has been successful, implement set online catch ups via zoom or google meet each day. At first it may feel a little uncomfortable as we usually just pass by someone’s desk and cover off an issue, but we’ve found by setting a time you usually cover off work in progress and burning issues in a more productive way as the team are aware this is their window to do this.
Training & development
Ensuring you have options is also key. When a team member cannot work is there:
A replacement team member adequately trained? If not can you begin an in-house training program that develops your teams skill sets?
Is there an incentive scheme within the business that can keep your team safer.
Cost saving initiatives
With shipping and product costs escalating due to supply - look to your team for their input on ways to save or prevent additional costs. Planning ahead needs to be a team effort.
The challenges of the pandemic have forced many businesses to adopt an innovative mindset in order to adapt to new demands in record time. According to a global study* companies have accelerated by three to four years the digitisation of their customer and supply chain interactions, and of their internal operations, following the pandemic.
The challenge now is to continue to innovate and continue to disrupt and question your business model.
As always we are here to support and guide you. From initial business diagnostics through to a fully guided business plan and ongoing coaching, our team have the expertise to ensure you can move toward improved profits in your business.
*Source McKinsey & Co